- Importance of Design Highlights Changing Consumer Expectations About Vehicle Quality

Honda and Toyota combined garner six initial quality model awards in the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 South Africa Initial Quality Study(SM) (IQS) released today.

A customer-driven measure of problems experienced during the first three to seven months of ownership, the South Africa Initial Quality Study has been completely redesigned for 2006 to more precisely monitor consumer attitudes toward quality.

The study examines 228 individual problem symptoms across 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), with lower scores indicating fewer problems and therefore better quality.

"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.

To facilitate a deeper analysis, IQS problem symptoms have been further classified to two dimensions: defects/malfunctions and design-related problems. Nameplates with the fewest defects/malfunctions include Audi, BMW, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Subaru. Those with the fewest design-related problems include Audi, Daihatsu, Honda, Subaru, Toyota and Volvo.

"To satisfy owners and fully understand consumer perceptions of quality, manufacturers must consider both dimensions of vehicle quality," said Walters. "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."

2006 IQS Ranking Highlights

With 150 PP100 (combined defects/malfunctions and design-related problems), Honda retains its position as the highest-ranking passenger vehicle nameplate. BMW ranks second (154), followed by Mercedes-Benz (157), Subaru (166) and Audi (169). Hyundai, Toyota, Kia, Chevrolet and Daihatsu round out the top 10 passenger vehicle nameplates.

Toyota is the highest-ranked pickup truck nameplate at 202 PP100, followed by Isuzu (267).

Registering fewer problems than any other model in the industry, Toyota's RAV4 (compact SUV) is one of four Toyota models to receive IQS awards. The Tazz (upper compact car), Hilux Single Cab (one-ton single cab pickup) and Hilux Double Cab (one-ton double cab pickup) also rank highest in their respective segments. Honda's Civic ranks highest in the upper small car segment, while its Jazz is one of the top-performing models in the industry and has lead the lower small car segment in initial quality for three consecutive years.

Other models leading their respective segments in initial quality are the Hyundai Atoz (lower compact car), Volkswagen Touran (compact MPV), the Opel Corsa Utility (compact pickup), and the BMW 3 Series, which has been the top-performing medium car for three consecutive years.

Assembly Plants

Vehicle assembly plants are ranked based solely on the number of defects and malfunctions. BMW's Rosslyn plant leads other South African plants in initial quality for a third consecutive year with 88 PP100. DaimlerChrysler's passenger vehicle plant, which produces the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, follows with 104 PP100, while Toyota's Durban truck line, which produces the Toyota Hilux pickup, ranks third with 155 PP100.

J.D. Power and Associates is recognised across the globe as the leading independent authority on consumer-reported quality in the automotive industry. The firm's primary role is to help automotive manufacturers further improve their product quality and service levels through a better understanding of consumers. J.D. Power and Associates also provides its study results to consumers for use as a reference point when purchasing a new vehicle.

Since its launch in the United States in 1987, the IQS has become a quality standard used by virtually every automotive manufacturer around the world. In addition to South Africa, J.D. Power and Associates conducts vehicle quality research in many other markets, including China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Each year, more than 1 million new-vehicle buyers around the world receive a J.D. Power and Associates IQS survey.

The 2006 South Africa Initial Quality Study is based on a representative sample of more than 9 600 new-vehicle owners who purchased their vehicles between December 2005 and April 2006. The survey was funded entirely by J.D. Power and Associates as a part of its global research programs and included a section of questions to assist the Department of Transport in measuring the performance of its vehicle licensing programme.

Initial Quality Nameplate Ranking -- Passenger Vehicles
Problems per 100 Vehicles
(Lower score reflects better quality performance)

Initial Quality Nameplate Ranking -- Passenger Vehicles
Problems per 100 Vehicles
(Lower score reflects better quality performance)

Honda 150
BMW 154
Mercedes-Benz 157
Subaru 166
Audi 169
Hyundai 190
Toyota 197
Kia 200
Chevrolet 213
Daihatsu 214
Mazda 219
Volvo 221
Nissan 232
Peugeot 237
Opel 238
Passenger Vehicle Segment Average 239
Ford 243
Renault 258
Citroen 287
Fiat 346
Volkswagen 347
Tata 598

Initial Quality Nameplate Ranking -- Pickup Trucks
Problems per 100 Vehicles
(Lower score reflects better quality performance)

Toyota 202
Isuzu 267
Pickup Truck Segment Average 304
Opel 317
Ford 341
Nissan 351

Top Vehicles per Segment in Initial Quality
Problems per 100 Vehicles
(Lower score reflects better quality performance)

Total PP100
Lower Compact Car
Hyundai Atoz 162
Kia Picanto 168
Fiat Panda 176

Upper Compact Car
Toyota Tazz 281

Lower Small Car
Honda Jazz 120
Toyota Yaris 148
Hyundai Getz 190

Upper Small Car
Honda Civic 158
Mercedes-Benz A-Class 165
BMW 1 Series 170

Medium Car
BMW 3 Series 150
Mercedes-Benz C-Class 161
Audi A4 163

Compact MAV
Volkswagen Touran 200
Toyota Corolla Verso 208

Compact SUV
Toyota RAV4 (Old) 102
Subaru Forester 142
Honda CR-V 151

Compact Pickup
Opel Corsa Utility 317
Ford Bantam 349

One-Ton Single Cab Pickup
Toyota Hilux Single Cab 208
Isuzu KB Single Cab 259

One-Ton Double Cab Pickup
Toyota Hilux Double Cab 224
Nissan Navara Double Cab 256
Isuzu KB Double Cab 278

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