New-vehicle quality in 2019 stays flat compared with 2018, marking the first year without improvement since 2014, according to the J.D. Power 2019 Initial Quality Study (IQS). More brands worsened than improved over the past 12 months.
“Automakers continue to make progress in areas like infotainment that attract a lot of consumer attention,” said Dave Sargent, vice-president of global automotive at J.D. Power. “However, some traditional problems crept up this year including paint imperfections, brake and suspension noises, engines not starting and the ‘check engine’ light coming on early in the ownership experience. Also, more people are having issues with their advanced driver assistance systems, which are critical for building consumer trust in future automated vehicles.”
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.
Following are key findings of the 2019 study:
- Gap between Korean brands and others continues to widen:The three highest-ranking brands—Genesis, Kia and Hyundai—are all from Korean manufacturer Hyundai Motor Group, and the gap between these three brands and all others has widened considerably. 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.
- Domestic brands above average:Ford (83 PP100), Lincoln (84 PP100), Chevrolet (85 PP100), Dodge (90 PP100) and Buick (92 PP100) all perform better than the industry average of 93 PP100. Overall, Domestic-branded vehicles perform 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, all 10 European marques are below average. The largest gaps for the European vehicles are infotainment and other electronics.
- Porsche 911 again achieves the best score of any model:The Porsche 911, with just 58 PP100, has the best score of any model for the second consecutive year.
- Infotainment problems are decreasing: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.
- Problems with driver assistance systems are increasing:As advanced driver assistance systems become more widespread and increasingly complex, more owners are indicating problems. The average for premium brands is 6.1 PP100, up from 5.0 last year, while the average for mass market brands is 3.5 PP100.
- New and redesigned vehicles still trail carryover vehicles:Vehicles that were launched in 2019 have an average problem level of 103 PP100, which equals the best score ever. However, this is still well below the score for carryover models, which have an average problem level of 91 PP100.