Tokyo: 28 August 2014 ― New-vehicle owners in Japan are experiencing a wide array of problems with their vehicle, and the problems vary differ greatly depending on the vehicle segment, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2014 Japan Initial Quality StudySM (IQS) released today.
The Japan IQS, which serves as the industry benchmark for new-vehicle quality, has been redesigned for 2014 to better measure the quality of today’s vehicles, particularly problems related to new technologies and features now being offered. Additionally, the study allows for more detailed feedback from new-vehicle owners.
The study, now in its fourth year, measures new-vehicle quality in the first two to nine months of ownership. Vehicle quality is evaluated across 233 problem areas in eight categories: vehicle exterior; driving experience; features/ controls/ displays; audio/ communication/ entertainment/ navigation (ACEN); seats; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); vehicle interior; and engine/ transmission. All problems are summarized as the number of reported problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), with lower scores indicating higher quality performance.
The study finds that overall initial quality averages 84 PP100 in 2014. The problems reported most frequently overall are cup holders difficult to use; automatic transmission hesitates/ shifts at wrong times; and navigation system difficult to use or poor location.
The problem categories most frequently reported at the segment level vary greatly.
- In the mini-car segment, engine/ transmission problems comprise 45 percent of the problems reported, followed by vehicle interior (31%) and ACEN (8%).
- In the compact segment, vehicle interior problems make up 33 percent of the problems, followed by engine/ transmission (31%), seat (13%) and ACEN (11%).
- In the midsize segment, vehicle interior (54%) and ACEN (39%) are the most frequently citied problem categories.
- Vehicle interior problems (45%) is the most frequently reported problem categories in the minivan segment, followed by ACEN (19%), engine/ transmission (18%) and seat (7%).
- In the large segment, ACEN problems are the most common (58%), followed by vehicle interior (28%), and seat and engine/ transmission (each 7%).
“Problems in the engine/ transmission category, which have a great impact on fuel consumption, continue to be more frequently reported in the mini-car and compact segments, in which automakers are working toward building more fuel efficient vehicles,” said Atsushi Kawahashi, senior director of the automotive division at J.D. Power Asia Pacific. “As it stands now, engines and transmissions are clearly failing from the perspective of new-vehicle owners with respect to the smoothness of shifting and acceleration.”
Audio/ communication/ entertainment/ navigation, seats and vehicle interior problems are more prevalent in the midsize, large and minivan segments, in which there are more vehicles equipped with a navigation system, new technology and other features. Problems in the ACEN category are most often attributed to connectivity, functionality and usability issues, including Bluetooth connectivity.
“With the continued increase in smartphone usage, it’s important that automakers and suppliers provide technology in their vehicles that pairs well with an owner’s phone,” said Atsushi. “Understanding what customers want for operability and usability in their vehicle, as well as capturing ever-changing customer expectations, is imperative to satisfying customers and establishing loyalty.”
2014 Ranking Highlights
Toyota ranks highest among nameplates, with a quality score of 76 PP100. Suzuki ranks second (78 PP100), followed by Honda (81 PP100) and Daihatsu (84 PP100). Toyota models also rank highest in each of the four segments, which is the first time one nameplate has swept all four awards since the study started measuring multiple segments in 2011.
Rankings in the four vehicle segments are:
- Mini-car segment: Toyota Pixis Epoch ranks highest, followed by Honda N-BOX and Nissan Dayz Roox.
- Compact segment: Toyota Ractis ranks highest, followed by Toyota Aqua and Toyota Passo.
- Midsize segment: Toyota SAI ranks highest, followed by Nissan Leaf and Honda Vezel.
- Minivan segment: Toyota Alphard ranks highest, followed by Toyota Voxy and Mazda Premacy.
The 2014 Japan Initial Quality Study is based on responses from 15,684 purchasers of new vehicles in the first two to nine months of ownership. The study includes 17 automotive brands and 134 models and ranks models with a sample size of 100 or more usable questionnaire returns. The study was fielded in May 2014.
About J.D. Power Asia Pacific
J.D. Power Asia Pacific has offices in Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai and Bangkok that conduct customer satisfaction research and provide consulting services in the automotive, information technology and finance industries. Together, the five offices bring the language of customer satisfaction to consumers and businesses in Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. Information regarding J.D. Power Asia Pacific and its products can be accessed through the Internet at japan.jdpower.com.
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No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power. www.jdpower.com
 No official rankings are published due to an insufficient number of models.