Honda and Toyota Tops in Initial Quality

By: Shane Morgay

The importance of the vehicle's quality cannot be overemphasized. Though there are changing consumer expectations, quality is still the topmost priority. Recently, J.D. Power and Associates conducted this year's South Africa Initial Quality Study (IQS). Said study gave Honda and Toyota combined 6 initial quality model awards.

and parts contribute significantly to the durability factor of the automaker's vehicles. This is also true with and auto parts. These two automakers are now making a big leap in the global auto market primarily because of the quality they are delivering to the auto enthusiasts.

This year, South Africa Initial Quality Study was entirely redesigned to more exactly examine consumer attitudes toward quality. It is now based on a representative sample of more than 9 600 new-vehicle owners who purchased their vehicles between December 2005 and April 2006.

The study delved into the problems encountered by auto customers during the first three to seven months of ownership. It examined 228 individual problem symptoms in nine categories: vehicle exterior; the driving experience; features/controls/displays; audio/entertainment/navigation; seats; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); vehicle interior; engine/transmission; and other problems. All problems are identified as the number reported per 100 vehicles (PP100). Lower scores signify fewer problems and therefore of better quality.

IQS was launched in the United States in 1987. Since its introduction, it has been recognized as an authority in the examination of auto quality. Aside from South Africa, J.D. Power and Associates is also conducting vehicle quality research in other markets around the globe including China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

"Continued quality improvements have caused consumers to focus increasingly more attention on soft quality issues, or vehicle design-related problems, rather than solely on a more traditional view of quality characterized by defects and malfunctions," said Brian Walters, senior director of J.D. Power and Associates Europe, Middle East and Africa operations.

IQS problem symptoms were further classified into 2 dimensions: defects/malfunctions and design-related problems. Brands that have fewest defects/malfunctions include Audi, BMW, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Subaru. Further, those that have fewest design-related problems include Audi, Daihatsu, Honda, Subaru, Toyota and Volvo.

Walters explained," To satisfy owners and fully understand consumer perceptions of quality, manufacturers must consider both dimensions of vehicle quality. For instance, BMW models, along with those from Honda and Mercedes-Benz, have among the fewest defects/malfunctions. Yet, BMW's approach to features/controls/displays often creates some problems for customers, which ultimately contributes to more overall design-related anomalies when compared with Honda and Mercedes-Benz."

, on the other hand, are also aimed at enhancement. This is designed by the automaker to promote better quality and reliability.

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