Tag Archive | "vehicle quality"

Toyota, Lexus Perceived Quality Scores Improve, ALG Reports


SANTA BARBARA — A study by ALG, an independent subsidiary of TrueCar Inc., indicated that Toyota’s perceived quality score rose more than two percent over the last six months, closing the gap with leading mainstream brand Honda. Additionally, Lexus once again came out on top among luxury brands, according to the company’s Fall 2011 Perceived Quality Study (PQS).

“The continued rally of Toyota is evidence of the brand’s widespread reputation for quality and ownership loyalty. This is the third straight survey where Toyota has shown relatively strong growth,” said Eric Lyman, vice president of residual value solutions for ALG. “If this trend continues, the brand might soon regain the top spot from Honda in the mainstream category.”

Twice a year, ALG surveys approximately 3,000-4,000 U.S. consumers to gauge perceptions of a number of mainstream and luxury automotive brands for its PQS, reported F&I and Showroom magazine. Of the 23 brands included in the Fall 2008 survey that remain in the survey today, Ford brands, Kia and Hyundai have racked up the biggest long-term gains, according to ALG. Hyundai led the group by moving from 18th place to 9th place, Ford Cars and Ford Trucks moved from 15th to 7th and 8th to 3rd place, respectively, and Kia jumped from 23rd place in 2008 to 18th place.

“These three automakers have made impressive efforts to improve brand perception and we can see that it has truly paid off in the mainstream rankings,” Lyman added. “The perception of where luxury brands stand in relation to each other seems to be solidly cemented in the minds of consumers, owing to the consistency of the luxury rankings.”

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Toyota’s Quality Image Rebounds in ALG Study


SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – ALG, a subsidiary of DealerTrack Holdings Inc. and a provider of residual values and depreciation data, today announced that Toyota’s perceived quality score (PQS) registered a sharp 5 percent increase in the last six months, with the carmaker bouncing back to second place from sixth among mainstream brands in ALG’s Fall 2010 Perceived Quality Study.

Dodge Cars (up 4 percent) and Jeep (up 3 percent) were the other two mainstream brands that showed the most improvement over their spring 2010 scores. Among luxury brands, Jaguar notched a 5 percent gain, although its PQS remains relatively low at 62.4.

With a PQS of 81.4 and a 10.7 point lead over Toyota (70.7), Honda continued its dominance over all other mainstream brands. The third, fourth and fifth-place brands – Ford Trucks (69.9), Nissan (69.0) and Subaru (68.9) – are tightly bunched behind Toyota.

Mercedes-Benz again was the top-ranked luxury brand with a PQS of 83.9, slightly increasing its lead over runner-up Lexus in the last six months, which remained steady with an 81.9 PQS. BMW (81.6), Porsche (80.2) and Acura (77.4) rounded out the top five in the luxury category.

“The significant recovery for Toyota, which saw a dramatic 20 percent PQS drop in spring 2010 due to quality issues and massive recalls, can be attributed to marketing around vehicle safety, strong customer loyalty and good service,” said Eric Lyman, OEM Practice Director at ALG. “At Jaguar, recent design transitions have fostered a stronger emotional connection with the consumer, leading to an improvement in the perception of the brand.”

Since the inception of ALG’s PQS in the spring 2008, the biggest gains have been achieved by Ford cars, Ford trucks, Hyundai, Kia and Jaguar, respectively. The biggest declines in PQS over that period have been registered by Toyota, Saturn, Saab, Lexus and Scion, respectively.

ALG’s PQS measures consumers’ perceptions and beliefs about the quality of automobile brands in the U.S. market. The complete list with scores is available at http://www.alg.com/pdf/pqs_2010_fall.pdf.

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Auto Industry Satisfaction Is Down, but U.S. Brands Stable


DETROIT – Americans’ satisfaction with domestic automobiles has stabilized, and in a few cases climbed, despite an overall decline for the industry over the past 18 months, according to an annual report released today by the American Customer Satisfaction Index reported on by Automotive News.

Overall, automobile satisfaction dipped from an all-time industry high of 84 in 2009 to 82 this year on ACSI’s 0-100 scale.

The American Customer Satisfaction Index, which is based at the University of Michigan, is designed to measure the quality of products and services available to U.S. consumers.

Lincoln-Mercury and Buick topped the list for the first time ever. Chrysler, however, continues to struggle, with two of its three divisions — Dodge and Jeep — at the bottom. VW, Chevrolet, Kia and Mazda also scored below the industry average.

Overall, 14 of the 19 biggest brands dropped in customer satisfaction over the past year. Of the few nameplates that held steady or improved, Nissan made the biggest stride, up 4 points, to match the industry average at 82.

GMC experienced a smaller improvement, up 2 points to 84.

“It was not long ago when Detroit’s products were clustered at the bottom of the industry,” Claes Fornell, founder of the ACSI and author of The Satisfied Customer: Winners and Losers in the Battle for Buyer Preference, said in a statement.

Even though satisfaction with most domestic and foreign automakers declined in 2010, U.S. brands showed the smallest drop, while Japanese and Korean brands fell the most, putting U.S. automakers slightly ahead of Asian rivals for the first time since 2000, the ACSI said.

Ford’s Lincoln-Mercury division topped the list, up 1 point to 89 — its highest score ever. It was followed by Buick — unchanged at 88.

Behind Lincoln and Buick were BMW, off 1 point; Mercedes-Benz, unchanged; and Cadillac, down 3 points, all tied at 86.

A year ago, in the middle of the recession, generous discounts and the government’s cash for clunkers program helped many auto brands post record levels of satisfaction with U.S. consumers. But the gains have not been sustained.

Several automakers fell from all-time highs set in 2009: Honda, off 4 points to 84; Hyundai, down 3 points to 82; Ford, off 1 point to 82; Volkswagen, down 5 points to 81; and Chevrolet, off 3 points to 80, all dropped this year. Cadillac, Lexus, Chrysler and Dodge also declined from record scores last year.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s well publicized recalls had a bigger effect on its Lexus brand than on the Toyota brand, the survey found.

Lexus dropped 4 points to 85, but Toyota fell only half as much, falling 2 points to 84.

At Lexus, recalls impacted a greater proportion of recent Lexus owners and touched nearly every Lexus model because of problems that included fuel leaks, stalling engines and rollover risks.

The ACSI survey is conducted by phone. Each company’s score is derived from 250 interviews with respondents aged 18 to 84.

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Pickups Emerging as Leaders in Quality


On a list of today’s best-built vehicles, you might expect to find a sleek Mercedes sedan or an iconic Porsche convertible. Even a fuel-sipping minivan from Toyota — despite the automaker’s recent troubles with recalls.

But a pickup? Probably not.

Yet these workhorses are now among the highest-quality vehicles on the road, earning better marks in key quality studies than many cars, including some luxury models, The Detroit News reported.

Leading the way are American brands, determined to keep their Japanese rivals at bay.

In the latest J.D. Power and Associates’ initial quality rankings, pickups widened their lead over other light vehicles for 2010 models: Problems per 100 vehicles reported during the first three months of ownership totaled 95, compared with the industry average of 109. Leading the pack were General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Avalanche and GMC Sierra.

At stake is more than just bragging rights: Even amid the worst industry downturn in decades, Detroit’s Big Three sold more than 1 million of the 1.14 million full-size pickups bought in the United States last year, underscoring how critical the truck market is to domestic automakers.

“Pickups likely will remain in the forefront of quality because they are profitable vehicles automakers can’t afford to lose,” said Mike Levine, editor of PickupTrucks.com in Santa Monica, Calif., an editorial site devoted to coverage of the pickup industry.

Today’s pickup buyers are finding fewer problems because buyers demanded and got more creature comforts and Detroit’s automakers drew a line in the sand vowing not to relinquish the quintessentially American segment to the Japanese.

“Pickups used to lag,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research for J.D. Power in Troy. “Now they’re pretty much the highest-quality vehicles.

“Twenty years ago, the pickup was essentially a work tool with no focus on the interior at all, only whether it was washable and could you fit a bunch of guys in there.”

The pickup segment is unique in that Detroit-made pickups collectively score better than average, while the Japanese entries fall below the median. In many other segments, imports are the quality leaders.

The best of the best in the large pickup class, the Avalanche and Sierra, tied for the fewest problems with 81, followed by the Ford F-150 at 85.

Quality engenders loyalty, said Rick Spina, GM line executive for trucks.

“Happy customers don’t move. It is up to the Big Three to not disappoint,” he said.

“It has been one of the strongest stands, one of the only spots where key Japanese competitors made a good hard run at it and have not been successful.”

The pickup has come a long way from the spartan regular cab of the ’90s with a bench front seat and few amenities, said Bob Hegbloom, Chrysler’s head of truck, SUV and commercial vehicle product planning. “They didn’t ride well. They were a tool.”

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