The U.S. auto industry is back on track as initial quality of new vehicles this year improved from the 2014 decline, according to J.D. Power’s 2015 Initial Quality Study.
The study measures problems experienced by some 84,000 new-vehicle American buyers or lessees during the first 90 days of ownership.
J.D. Power evaluates initial quality based on the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100). A lower score represents higher quality.
This year, the industry experienced a three per cent year-over-year improvement in initial quality, averaging 112 PP100 from 116 PP100 in 2014 when new-vehicle quality dipped from 113 PP100 in 2013.
Reps with J.D. Power say it improved the study in 2013 to better measure problems with new technologies and features in new vehicles.
Korean brands lead the industry in averaging the fewest problems per 100 vehicles – only 90 PP100, which is 11 fewer PP100 than in the 2014 study.
Kia and Hyundai ranked among the top 5 brands in initial quality this year.
In addition, Kia, for the first time in the study's 29-year history, led all non-premium nameplates in initial quality.
And for the first time, European brands (113 P100) outperformed the Japanese and domestic brands' average quality score (both average 114 PP100) as Porsche continued to set the quality bar.
For a third consecutive year it ranked highest in initial quality, with an average score of 80 PP100 in the 2015 IQS.
Although the Japanese brands' average score improved by 2 PP100 this year, the lower problem score was not enough to keep pace with the industry's overall improvement, which means Japanese brands fell below the industry average for the first time in the history of the study.
Only four of 10 Japanese nameplates included in the study posted fewer problems in 2015 than in 2014.