2011 Initial Quality Study Results

2011 Initial Quality Study AwardAs the level of technology in today's new cars and trucks increases, so too does the challenge for automakers to design and build vehicles with the high levels of initial quality that consumers have come to expect.

In recent years, features such as adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, side blind-zone alert, reverse-parking assist systems, and many others have become standard equipment in many luxury car models. Some technologies, such as navigation and tire-pressure monitoring, can now be found in even the most economy-minded models. While all of this technology certainly has advanced the automobile as a concept, it often has presented challenges for automakers when it comes to new-vehicle quality.

Hands-free Communication Systems
One tech feature, in particular, that can give automakers headaches is hands-free communication systems. Indeed, in the recently released J.D.Power and Associates 2011 Initial Quality StudySM (IQS),which measures new-vehicle quality after 90 days of ownership, Hands-free communication does not recognize command is the second-most-frequently reported problem (Excessive wind noise is first and has been for many years).

2011 Initial Quality Study Award RecipientsTo illustrate how significant the issue has become, in 2006 Hands-free communication does not recognize command did not even appear among the top 20 industry problems in the IQS study. During the past five years, the number of owner-reported problems with hands-free communication systems has increased by nearly 240% (to 6.1 problems per100 vehicles (PP100)* in 2011 from 1.8 PP100 in 2007). This increase in problems mirrors the increase in the number of models equipped with a hands-free communication system, to 31% in 2011 from 10% in 2007.

The issue is gaining more attention in the industry, as an increasing number of models are equipped with hands-free technology. Unlike features such as tire-pressure-monitoring systems, however, hands-free communication isn't federally mandated. Manufacturers have been adding the feature to improve driver safety and lessen the possibility of driver distraction as well as in response to laws in some states barring the use of handheld devices while driving. As of June 2011,eight states and the District of Columbia have banned the use of handheld cell phones while driving.

*Note: Study results are communicated using a "problems per 100vehicles (PP100)" metric, where a lower PP100 indicates higher initial quality.

Gallery: 2011 IQS Award Recipients
2011 IQS: Top 3 Models by Category

2011 IQS: Ratings by Category
2011 IQS: Ratings by Brand

Page 1 of 3

Related Articles