2016 Initial Quality Study: Reliability Still Tops List of Purchase Factors
Nearly one-half (49%) of new-vehicle buyers and lessees cite “expected reliability” as the most important factor when purchasing a new car or light truck, according the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Initial Quality StudySM (IQS). The study is based on feedback from more than 80,000 buyers and lessees of 2016 model-year vehicles after the first 90 days of ownership.
Reliability was also the key factor a year ago among respondents in the 2015 IQS (50%) and is the major factor in choosing a car or truck among owners of 3-year-old (2013 model-year) vehicles in the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS).
One of the reasons reliability may be so important to buyers relates to improved new-vehicle quality—up by 6% from 2015—which allows owners to keep their cars and light trucks longer than in years past. With the price of new vehicles increasing as they are equipped with more and more content—such as advanced safety and communication technology, as well as comfort and convenience features—buyers are becoming more concerned with long-term dependability. In June 2016, the average new-vehicle transaction price was $31,089—an all-time-high for the month, according to data collected by the Power Information Network® (PIN) from J.D. Power.
Among the top factors for selecting a brand or model, only three garnered the same importance and percentages as in the 2015 IQS. The factor that drops more this year among the top nine is fuel economy/range (35% in 2016 vs. 37% in 2015). In the 2014 IQS, fuel economy/range was cited by 38% of respondents. Albeit small, the steady decline in the importance of fuel economy/range as a reason for buying may simply be explained by the fact that a few years ago, fuel prices were higher, and fuel economy was more of a concern in selecting a new vehicle. However, not only have prices at the pump fallen, but manufacturers are producing more efficient, smaller advanced engines, plus hybrid and plug-in hybrid electric powertrains, all of which enhance fuel economy and range.
In the 2016 IQS, the top nine purchase reasons and their percentages are (in descending order vs. 2015): expected reliability (49% vs. 50%); exterior styling (45% in both years); previous brand model and experience (42% in both years); reputation and reviews (39% vs. 40%); ride and handling (39% vs. 40%); price or payment (39% vs. 38%); safety (37% in both years); fuel economy/range (35% vs. 37%); and quality of workmanship (33% vs. 34%).