New Vehicle Quality Stalls, Per J.D. Power

After four years of improving, new-vehicle quality in 2019 is flat compared with 2018, marking the first year without improvement since 2014, according to the J.D. Power 2019 Initial Quality Study.

More brands worsened than improved over the past 12 months. This is a problem since automakers are already dealing with flat sales and increased pushback from consumers over prices, which is prompting a rise in used vehicle sales."

Initial quality is measured by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100) during the first 90 days of ownership, with a lower score reflecting higher quality. In this year’s study, only 13 brands improved, while 18 worsened. The industry average remained unchanged at 93 PP100.

Vehicles that were launched in 2019 have an average problem level of 103 PP100. However, this is still well below the score for carryover models, which have an average problem level of 91 PP100.

The gap between Korean brands and others continue to widen. Genesis, Kia and Hyundai are the three highest-ranked brands for a second straight year and are all from Korean manufacturer Hyundai Motor Group. Remarkably, 16 of 18 models from Hyundai Motor Group rank in the top three in their respective segments. These vehicles tend to perform especially well in the areas of infotainment and other electronic components, according to the study.

Genesis ranks highest in overall initial quality with a score of just 63 PP100. Kia (70 PP100) places second and Hyundai (71 PP100) ranks third. Hyundai Motor Group models that rank highest in their respective segments are Genesis G70; Hyundai Santa Fe; Kia Forte; Kia Rio; Kia Sedona; and Kia Sportage.

For the second year in a row, the Porsche 911 achieved the best score of any model, with just 58 PP100.

Domestic brands are above the industry average of 93 PP100. Ford had the best score (83 PP100) followed by Lincoln (84 PP100), Chevrolet (85 PP100), Dodge (90 PP100) and Buick (92 PP100). Overall, domestic-branded vehicles performed close to the average in most areas.

All European brands are below average In contrast to the success of the Korean automakers and the leading domestic and Japanese brands, and all 10 European marques are below average. The largest gaps for the European vehicles are infotainment and other electronics.

Infotainment remains the most problematic category for new-vehicle owners. However, this area is the most improved from 2018, led by fewer problems for voice recognition and Bluetooth.

The parent corporation receiving the most model-level awards is Hyundai (six awards), followed by General Motors (five); BMW AG (three); Ford (two) and Nissan (two).

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