2012 Vehicle Dependability Study Results


Vehicle Dependability Trophy
Strong initial quality of 2009 model-year vehicles which were produced during one of the most challenging years for the automotive industry has translated into historically high levels of vehicle dependability in 2012, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS).

The study, which is based on responses from more than 31,000 original owners of 2009 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership, measures problems experienced during the previous 12 months by those original owners. Overall dependability is determined by the level of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.

According to the study, the dependability of 3-year-old vehicles has improved by 19 PP100 from the 2011 dependability study, and averages 132 PP100 in 2012. This improvement is similar to the industry trend noted in the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Initial Quality StudySM (IQS). Further, vehicle reliability as measured in the VDS has improved at an average annual rate of 8% from 2009. In fact, overall long-term vehicle dependability is the strongest it has ever been, and the gap between initial quality and long-term dependability continues to close.

"Overall long-term vehicle dependability is the strongest it has ever been, and the gap between initial quality and long-term dependability continues to close."
Despite facing immense challenges in 2009, automakers placed a keen focus on delivering outstanding levels of quality, which they understood would be essential to their long-term success, said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates. Three years later, owners of these models are enjoying unprecedented levels of vehicle dependability and manufacturers are experiencing market recovery. This is good news both for owners who are holding onto their vehicles for longer than ever and manufacturers, since perception of quality and dependability is a critical factor in vehicle purchase decisions.

Some Brands Still Facing Customer Perception Challenges
However, according to Sargent, there are several brands that have performed very well in dependability during the past several years but still face challenges with customer perceptions of their reliability. In particular, during the past four years, models from Buick, Cadillac, Ford, Hyundai and Lincoln have achieved consistently strong levels of dependability, but still have relatively high proportions of new-vehicle buyers expressing reliability concerns.

Building vehicles with high levels of dependability is obviously a necessary element in reshaping consumer perceptions, said Sargent. Negative quality perceptions are notoriously difficult to change, and it takes considerable time, but effectively communicating improvements in dependability may reduce concerns, and by extension, help new-vehicle sales.

Component Replacement
In addition to reporting problems experienced with their vehicle, owners who participate in the VDS also indicate whether components were replaced, as well as the specific components replaced.

For a fourth consecutive year, the percentage of owners who replaced components (61.6%) has declined.

Among brands, Cadillac has the lowest component replacement rate in 2012, a decrease of 3.0 percentage points from 2011, as well as the third-lowest overall PP100 (104 PP100). Also, Dodge has the largest year-over-year decrease in component replacement rate (a 9.4-percentage-point improvement). While Dodge continues to have one of the highest PP100 scores (183 PP100), the brand has improved by 23 PP100 from 2011.

2012 Vehicle Dependability Study Links

2012 Vehicle Dependability Study Award Recipients

Top Three Models by Segment

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