TOKYO: 31 Aug. 2017 — Overall initial vehicle quality remains at the same level as in 2016, while problems related to safety features and new technologies are more frequent in 2017, according to the J.D. Power 2017 Japan Initial Quality StudySM (IQS), released today.
J.D. Power initial quality studies are conducted globally and serve as the industry benchmark for new-vehicle quality. In Japan, overall initial quality averages 76 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) in 2017, compared with 75 PP100 in 2016 and 80 PP100 in 2015.
The study, now in its seventh year, measures new-vehicle quality in the first two to nine months of ownership. Vehicle quality is evaluated by owners 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 (eng/trans). All problems are summarized as the number of reported problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), with lower scores reflecting a higher quality performance.
While eng/trans problems have decreased to 8.2 PP100 (a year-over-year decrease of 1.5 PP100) and ACEN problems have decreased to 10.0 PP100 (a year-over-year decrease of 1.3 PP100), problems are more frequently reported in the other six categories. Vehicle interior problems (16.5 PP100, a year-over-year increase of 0.9 PP100) are the most frequently reported problems among the eight categories, with features/controls/displays (11.7 PP100, a year-over-year increase of 1.4PP100) accounting for the second-most frequently reported problems.
The number of reported problems has increased in all vehicle segments from 2016, except the mini-car and large segments. Particularly in the minivan segment, overall initial quality averages 76 PP100, an increase of 7 PP100 from 2016. In this segment, the most often reported problems are related to vehicle interior (17.0 PP100, an increase of 2.7 PP100), followed by features/controls/displays (12.8 PP100, an increase of 3.8 PP100). In the features/controls/displays category, problems related to safety features and new technologies have been more frequently reported since 2016, including cruise control system—controls/icons difficult to understand/use or in a poor location (0.8 PP100, an increase of 0.4 PP100) and collision avoidance/alert system—controls/indicators difficult to understand/use or in a poor location (0.7 PP100, an increase of 0.5 PP100). Similarly, in the compact and midsize segments, problems related to safety features and new technologies have been more frequently reported since 2016.
In addition, more new vehicles have been equipped with safety features and new technologies since 2016, particularly lane departure warning systems (up 15.5%); collision avoidance/alert systems (up 11.4%); and park assist/backup warning (up 9.3%). More than half of owners have these features in their vehicle, suggesting that owners have more opportunities not only to use them but also to report problems with them.
“While more safety features and new technologies are appearing in vehicles, consumers are paying more attention to such features and technologies,” said Atsushi Kawahashi, senior director of the automotive division at J.D. Power. “Consumers find these technologies to be very influential in deciding on the car they will purchase. But once owners purchase a vehicle equipped with these new technologies and use them on a daily basis, they are likely to have difficulty in usability and user friendliness.
“Auto manufacturers should be aware that not only introducing new technologies but also improving usability and user friendliness will result in users’ affinity for and trust in new technologies and features,” Kawahashi said.
Quality by Segment
Overall initial quality averages 70 PP100, a 3 PP100 decrease from 2016. The number of problems decreases in the eng/trans category (-3.1 PP100), while owners report more problems in HVAC (+1.0 PP100) and features/controls/displays (+0.4 PP100).
Overall initial quality averages 76 PP100, a 2 PP100 increase from 2016, driven by the increased number of reported problems in vehicle exterior (+2.2 PP100) and seats (+1.0 PP100).
Overall initial quality averages 84 PP100, a 4 PP100 increase from 2016. While ACEN (-3.4 PP10) improves year over year, the increased number of reported problems in features/controls/displays (+3.2 PP100); vehicle interior (+2.4 PP100); seats (+2.4 PP100); and driving experience (+1.4 PP100) have resulted in the deterioration in overall initial quality in this segment.
Overall initial quality averages 76 PP100, a 7 PP100 increase from 2016. Problems in six categories increase year over year, including: features/controls/displays (+3.8 PP100); vehicle interior (+2.7 PP100); driving experience (+1.4 PP100); eng/trans (+1.3 PP100); HVAC (+0.4 PP100); and vehicle exterior (+0.1 PP100).
Overall initial quality averages 76 PP100, an improvement of 5 PP100 from 2016. While the number of reported problems increases in vehicle interior (+1.2 PP100) and driving experience (+0.9 PP100), problems in six categories, including features/controls/displays (-2.8 PP100), improve year over year.
Daihatsu ranks highest among brands, averaging 67 PP100. Daihatsu is followed by Honda (71 PP100) and Toyota (73 PP100).
- Mini-car segment: Daihatsu Move Canbus and Honda N-WGN rank highest in a tie, followed by Daihatsu Cast and Suzuki Spacia.
- Compact segment: Toyota Passo ranks highest, followed by Toyota Roomy and Toyota Vitz.
- Midsize segment: Subaru XV ranks highest, followed by Subaru Impreza and Toyota Corolla.
- Minivan segment: Honda Freed ranks highest, followed by Toyota Sienta and Toyota Voxy.
The 2017 Japan Initial Quality Study is based on responses from 22,924 purchasers of new vehicles in the first two to nine months of ownership. The study, which includes 16 automotive brands and 108 models, ranks models with a sample size of 100 or more usable questionnaire returns. The study was fielded in May-June 2017.
About J.D. Power in the Asia Pacific Region
J.D. Power has offices in Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, Malaysia and Bangkok that conduct customer satisfaction research and provide consulting services in the automotive, information technology and finance industries in the Asia Pacific region. Together, the six offices bring the language of customer satisfaction to consumers and businesses in Australia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. J.D. Power is a portfolio company of XIO Group, a global alternative investments and private equity firm headquartered in London, and is led by its four founders: Athene Li, Joseph Pacini, Murphy Qiao and Carsten Geyer. Information regarding J.D. Power and its products can be accessed through the internet at japan.jdpower.com.
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 No official rankings are published due to an insufficient number of models.