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U.S. narrows car-quality gap
By Eric Mayne and Ed Garsten / The Detroit News

The quality gap between new cars and trucks from Detroit’s Big Three and foreign automakers continues to narrow, J.D. Power and Associates plans to report Wednesday when it releases its influential Initial Quality Study.

After trailing for many years, domestic automakers pulled even and ahead of some European rivals last year in the study, which tracks problems reported per 100 vehicles during the first three months of ownership.

While not disclosing how individual companies fared, J.D. Power spokesman Mike Greywitt said industrywide quality is up and the gap between domestics and foreign narrowed. All three Detroit automakers predict improvements when results of this year’s study are released.

“We are the only manufacturer to see continuous, year-after-year improvement since 1990,” said Steve Walukas, vice president of quality for DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group. “We can’t speculate at this point, but based on our products and processes, we will continue that trend.”

DaimlerChrysler ranked ninth last year, just behind Ford Motor Co., which showed the largest improvement — 5 percent — of any major automaker. Ford had 136 problems per 100 models, trailing General Motors Corp. and Nissan North America.

Louise Goeser, Ford’s vice president of quality, is optimistic about this year’s results.

“I expect improvement, but I don’t know how much,” she said Monday.

General Motors Corp. president Gary Cowger is looking to reverse the backslide the automaker took in last year’s study.

“Our internal studies show we’ll be making a nice improvement,” he said.

GM, which overtook Nissan Motor Co. two years ago to place fourth with 1.30 problems per vehicle, slipped to fifth in last year’s study.

source
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Some commentary:

Okay, for the three or four skeptics that are still out there, can we please PLEASE admit that the quality of new American brand cars is at or near par with its import brand competition? (Actually, it's even better than some European brands, but I won't ask some of you Euro fans to lower yourself to actually admit it--you may use the words "even" or "almost as good".)

I'm always reading implications that it's all a fluke whenever someone reminds us that JD Power and Consumer Reports have validated American brand quality. If this is indeed a fluke, then it's been fluking for a few years now, which sort of defies the definition of "fluke". :blink:

...so go ahead, liberate yourselves and admit it... B)
 

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The full JD Power report will be available on Wednesday, so you'll likely see one or more articles here that summarize the actual results around that time.
 

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the Euros are not the problem here. European cars are not the quality bogey here, it's the Japanese companies. except for MB, most European cars were never really considered so much for quality as they were for the thrill of driving. the Japanese companies are getting pretty good at excelling in both categories, and that's what the U.S. cars need to do.
 

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Originally posted by markform@Apr 27 2004, 10:19 AM
Personally, I think JD Power surveys can be shot full of holes and are basically worthless.
Golly, you're right.

Oh well, since JD Power surveys of actual owners are worthless, maybe Consumer Reports and some of the other publications quoted in the following article have some credibility?...

In reliability, Detroit forces BMWs, Benzes off the road
 

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Yeah, well my parents', neighbor's, daughter's, cousin's, father's college roommate owned a 1981 Chevrolet 18 years ago that broke down 2 times, so all American car quality sucks - forever!
 

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So Edmunds.com is essentially saying what we've known all along: domestic cars depreciate faster than imports. When (and if) the flood of incentives on the hoods of Detroit vehicles ebbs, this survey will not favor the Japanese, either. Admittedly, that's a big if.
 

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Originally posted by markform@Apr 27 2004, 11:17 AM
Hey CoolCaddy,

Since you're into surveys, I thought you'd be interested in this one from Edmunds.com...a name that SPECIALIZES in the auto industry.

Edmunds.com - Vehicles With The Lowest Ownership Costs
Well, first of all, the link you gave me isn't from Edmunds, so I think you might have your sources a little confused. But in any case, I have no problem conceding the suggestion that cost-of-ownership advantages generally favor foreign brands.

Heck, quality advantages still favor most Japanese brands--I have no problem admitting that. The point is that the gap is narrowing, even to the extent that brands like Cadillac are regularly and decisively beating out brands like Mercedes-Benz and BMW in these surveys.

Now, in the interest of providing an example to all, I will do for you what I wish folks with your point of view would do for the rest of us:

Ahem:

"I, Cool Caddy, hereby acknowledge that foreign-brand vehicles top the AutoRemarketing.com cost-of-ownership survey. I believe AutoRemarketing.com to be a credible source of information on such matters and will accept their findings as reasonably accurate."

...how's that?
 

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This is great news.

If GM and Ford can keep making better than average improvements over the coming years like they have in the past 10 years, I can't help but think that the quality perception gap in the general public will go away compared to the Europeans and Asian imports.

Mark
 

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Originally posted by tgagneguam@Apr 27 2004, 06:38 PM
Yeah, well my parents', neighbor's, daughter's, cousin's, father's college roommate owned a 1981 Chevrolet 18 years ago that broke down 2 times, so all American car quality sucks - forever!
That's actually a very common oppinion.
 

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Originally posted by ibechip+Apr 27 2004, 09:37 AM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (ibechip @ Apr 27 2004, 09:37 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> <!--QuoteBegin-tgagneguam@Apr 27 2004, 06:38 PM
Yeah, well my parents', neighbor's, daughter's, cousin's, father's college roommate owned a 1981 Chevrolet 18 years ago that broke down 2 times, so all American car quality sucks - forever!
That's actually a very common oppinion. [/b][/quote]
Lol! I also hear this "Conventional Knowledge" alot in the community. Im overall Pleased with this news
 

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Huh?! Now I'm really dying to see this report. Boy, Jim Press is going to have a lot of explaining to do to Fujio Cho.

From the Car Connection:

Hyundai could top Toyota in Power quality ranking

When J.D. Power and Associates releases its Initial Quality Survey today, USA Today reports this morning, Hyundai is widely expected to pass Toyota brand in the rankings. This happened, reports the paper, because of big gains by Hyundai and a loss of ground in the study by Toyota brand. Power releases its findings today at 1 p.m. Hyundai has been gaining in all third-party quality studies, including those of Strategic Vision and AutoPacific. Power says Hyundai is the most improved nameplate since 2000. -Jim Burt

http://www.thecarconnection.com/index.asp?...5&sid=173&n=156
 

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"Smart buyers consider the ownership cost profile when making their final vehicle selections, not just the initial purchase price. That way, there are no surprises when the new car smell wears off."

--Edmunds.com article

I guess we're not very smart buyers.
 

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I understand that if you trade your car in every three or four years that the significant depreciation that US makes suffer impact the cost of ownership. However, if you keep a car for 6-8 years, then that factor starts to be less and less important. I have a 1996 Mercury Cougar V8 that I have owned since day one that has been 99% trouble free. I have only had routine maintenance done. The only problem I have had was when the thermostat went out at 85,000 miles. Now, that only cost me about $15 to fix (I did it myself).

My car has depreciated significantly and lost most of its value in the first couple of years of ownership, but since I keep my cars for a long time, I don't care about that. If I was going to buy a new car today, I would probably look at the domestic brands because they have a lower sale price. The japanese brands don't use incentives so that they can keep the resale value up, but that makes the initial cost higher.

The quality gap is now largly perception, and I am not going to pay 10% more for an equally good car just because it has a higher resale value. That seems to be a wash in the end.

If GM and the other brands keep up the work to change the perception, then Honda and Toyota are going to find themselves in a bad situation because people are going to stop paying the initial premium for the Honda/Toyota name. We have already started to see this happen with the significant drop in the sales of the Accord, Civic and Odessy during the first quarter of 2004 as compared to the same quarter last year. I think people are finally waking up to the reality that the quality gap is evaporating.

I think that the Domestic brands and Hyundia are going to eventually take significant market share from the Japanese brands due to the improved quality all around.
 

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i suppose if quality is the japanese claim to fame, and it's dropping, then they're left with rather average (personality-wise) vehicles. the germans rely more on driving dynamics and presence, so that's why, even with steadily-dropping quality scores, they're not all suffering horribly. the koreans sell on price... and that's still working. domestic vehicle sales... i'd say they're dependent on a constantly changing mix of quality, value, and style.

that gives the domestics a fair bit of leverage. toyota can throw us a fancy solara, but toyota consumers will be crying "where's the quality" as quality ratings drop. BMW can give us ug-leee coupes and sedans, and while the lowered quality won't stop many from buying a BMW, a lack of the classic BMW style will. the domestics aren't as hinged on one factor, so if quality drops a bit they can still move the vehicles with lower prices. GM wants to charge a little more? spice up the grand am replacement a la G6. i think it's healthy for the domestics (GM more than the others, as i see it) to be able to market their vehicles on so many fronts.

WAY over-simplified (and maybe totally off-base), but that's how i see things. over time these values can change... look at hyundai. quality is steadily growing, and soon they'll be able to play their value AND quality cards.
 

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How do they sell the awards? Please explain this.
 

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Originally posted by markform+Apr 28 2004, 08:56 AM--></div><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (markform @ Apr 28 2004, 08:56 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'><!--QuoteBegin-boblutzfan@Apr 28 2004, 04:00 PM
How do they sell the awards?  Please explain this.
Very simple. Just visit their website and view the legal page.

The JD Power name is copyrighted. You are forbidden from unauthorized use of their name unless you are a customer of JD Power & Associates.

Here's a link to their legal page

I had to laugh when I saw the 2003 GMC Savanna received a JD Power award as the most dependable van. It also received 6 recalls.[/b][/quote]
I appreciate that you point out how we're on the same side of the issue in most cases, and I'd like to acknowledge that.

Curiously though, I'm not sure where you coming from with some of your statements on this one.

The link you provided simply says that JD Power owns its content and you have to pay for access to its survey results. You'll see similar legalize for just about any content publishing organization because, at some point, these folks have to charge money for their work. After all, they did the research, they sent out the surveys, they tallied the results, they published the results, and they have mouths to feed.

I'm not sure if you've ever received a JD Power survey, but if you have and if you filled it out, you probably spent a great deal of time doing so. These surveys have three or four pages of questions, asking similar questions in different ways in order to arrive at as accurate a result as possible.

If you don't trust JD Power results, then you're questioning the ability of the folks who fill out the surveys, not the integrity of JD Power.

Besides that, Consumer Reports and other consumer organizations validate JD Power survey results.

So again, I don't get it. What will it take to convince you that domestic brand quality is pretty darn good these days and that some import brands are weakening in this respect? What is it about facts and solid data that you find so offensive?
 

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The results are out, and they're pretty amazing. Hyundai skyrocketed up to #4. Amazing!

However, the most amazing result is that no BMW, Mercedes, or Infiniti car made the IQS. BMW was also shut out of the truck segment.

Top luxury marques according to this are Cadillac & Lexus. Cool.

I do note that Saturn fell, or were they below average last year?

I still don't get Hyundai. How did they do it? Are customers just more accepting of rattles, etc. or are the cars truly that good now? It'd be interesting to know.
 

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Hyundais have been good cars for quite some time now. It's just taking time for the OPINION of their quality to catch up.

More startling than Hyundai's 4th place for the brand and tie (with Honda) for second among corporations, is Porsche's PLUMMET to nearly the bottom of the rankings (just ahead of Volkswagen and Hummer). I guess it's all because of the Cayenne.

And Saturn actually IMPROVED over last year. Brands who fared worse this year (compared to last year) are Lexus (still #1, though), Acura, Suzuki, Nissan, Mazda, Porsche, and Volkswagen. Even Hummer (still at the bottom) improved its score.
 
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