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OEM Report: Automotive

U.S. cars gaining awards

By Russ Olexa

May 2009- If you're interested in buying a car that your neighbor is trying to sell, it's highly likely that he'll fill you in on its dependability. But if no one you know has a car you're interested in, how do you find out anything about its reliability?

This is where the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Vehicle Dependability Study comes in. It provides both the auto industry and consumers insight into the long-term reliability of today's new vehicles.

The 2009 VDS focuses on problems experienced by original owners of three-year-old vehicles (2006 model year). Both consumers and the worldÕs auto manufacturers use the study extensively. Manufacturers use it to help design and build better vehicles, which usually have higher resale values. Consumers use it to help make decisions when buying new or used vehicles.

Providing information gathered from more than 46,000 original owners, the VDS measures an auto's performance using a problems-per-100-vehicles metric. A lower PP100 score indicates better performance, and a higher one shows worse performance. The 2009 study covers 202 problems in eight major problem categories: exterior, driving experience, features/controls/displays, audio/entertainment/navigation, seat comfort, heating ventilation and air conditioning performance, interior design and engine/transmission.

Frequency and severity of component replacement has a particularly strong impact on customer loyalty, according to the study. Component areas where the impact is greatest include the engine/transmission category. When engine components are replaced or rebuilt, 11 percent of customers say they definitely intend to purchase or lease another vehicle of the same make, compared with nearly 40 percent of owners who report replacing no components.

"Buick has ranked among the top 10 nameplates each year since the study was last redesigned in 2003, while Jaguar has moved rapidly up the rankings," said David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates, in a press release. "Lexus remains a strong competitor in long-term quality. In particular, the Lexus LS 430 sets the industry standard for dependability, with fewer problems reported than any other model in the study."

Other highlights from this year's study include:

  • The average number of PP100 for the overall industry declined this year to 170, 36 PP100 fewer than in 2008.
  • Buick and Jaguar (122 PP100 each) tied for the highest-ranking in vehicle dependability, and Jaguar moved up nine positions from No. 10 in the 2008 study. Buick, which ranked No. 6 in 2008 and tied for the highest ranking with Lexus in 2007, ranked among the top 10 since 2003.
  • Lexus ranked No. 3, with more than half of its eligible models receiving a segment award.
  • Lexus and Toyota dominate the majority of the segment awards, with Toyota receiving five awards.
  • Lincoln has two awards (for the Mark LT and Zephyr), while Acura, Buick, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Mercury, Nissan and Scion each received one award.

 

Sources

  • J.D. Power and Associates
    Westlake Village, Calif.
    phone: 800/274-5372
    fax: 805/418-8900
    www.jdpower.com

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