STUDY_AUTO

2012 U.S. Initial Quality Study Results

6/20/2012
Despite Challenges with In-Vehicle Technology, Automakers Post a Strong Improvement in Initial Quality

As auto manufacturers introduce increasingly sophisticated multimedia systems designed to enhance the ownership experience, owners are more frequently citing these systems as a source of quality problems, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Initial Quality StudySM (IQS).

For the first time in the 26-year history of the study, owners report more problems related to audio, entertainment, and navigation systems than in any other vehicle area. This is driven in part by a rapid increase in the fitment of new technology, such as voice recognition, on mainstream models.

"Until recently, this type of sophisticated technology was found primarily on high-end models" said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates. "However, over the past few years it has rapidly found its way into the automotive mainstream. For example, in 2012, more than 80 percent of owners indicate that their new vehicle has some form of hands-free technology."

Specifically, the number of owner-reported problems with factory-installed hands-free communication devices has increased 137 percent during the past four years. In fact, hands-free devices not recognizing commands has become the most-often-reported problem in the industry.

"As smartphones become ubiquitous in the lives of consumers and are ever-more sophisticated, expectations about the complementary technologies being offered in new models will only get higher," said Sargent. "Automakers and suppliers are working hard to meet those expectations with systems intended to make the driving experience safer, more convenient, and more entertaining. However, the most innovative technology in the world will quickly create dissatisfaction if owners can't quickly and easily get it to work."

The Initial Quality Study, now in its 26th year, serves as the industry benchmark for new-vehicle quality measured at 90 days of ownership. The study is used extensively by manufacturers worldwide to help them design and build better models and by consumers to help them in their vehicle purchase decisions.

Initial quality has been shown throughout the years to be an excellent predictor of long-term durability, which directly impacts consumer purchase decisions. The study captures problems experienced by owners in two distinct categories: design-related problems and defects and malfunctions.


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