Quality Concerns Land Rover blames problems on software glitch
By MARK RECHTIN | AUTOMOTIVE NEWS
AutoWeek | Published 08/07/06, 12:38 pm et
LOS ANGELES -- So how clunky are Land Rovers, anyway?
According to the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, the British SUV brand is at the bottom of the heap, with 204 problems per 100 vehicles. That's far worse than the industry average of 124 problems per 100 vehicles.
The poor showing is a repeat performance for Land Rover, which has been in the bottom-three of the Power IQS pack for three of the past four years.
How many vs. how serious
Land Rover executives say it's not necessarily how many problems are found but how bad those problems are. It also matters how quickly the problems are corrected on the assembly line. Land Rover has fixed the problems detailed in the survey, said Al Kammerer, director of product development for Land Rover and Jaguar.
J.D. Power executives counter that niggling early quality problems often are bellwethers for longer-term lack of durability and reliability.
"There is a very good correlation between initial quality and vehicle dependability," said Neal Oddes, J.D. Power director of product research and analysis.
Land Rover's dead-last IQS finish can be attributed largely to software gremlins that triggered a persistent check-engine light.
"Consumers just knew they had a problem with a check-engine light," Oddes said. "They didn't know what the underlying problem was, and that leads to a certain apprehension."
Land Rover replaced its BMW-sourced engines for the Range Rover with ones from Jaguar for 2006. It also launched the Range Rover Sport with the same Jaguar engines. Both required creating new engine management software applications.
But Land Rover engineers did not account for all the different electronic connections a Land Rover must mate to, compared with Jaguar. That triggered fault codes in the software that then lit the check-engine light, Kammerer said.
Those errors were especially prominent in the Range Rover, which used the new Jaguar engine but retained the original BMW electrical architecture.
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