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New and Redesigned Models Buck Convention in 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study

New and Redesigned Models Buck Convention in 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study

By Jeff Youngs, March 05, 2013
Traditionally, new-vehicle buyers expect all-new and redesigned models to experience more problems than competing models that are carried over from the previous model year with few changes. Conventional wisdom dictates that automakers need some time to perfect the manufacturing process with all-new and redesigned vehicles, and historically, data from the annual J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS) would lend credence to the claim.

However, in the 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study, the data shows that vehicles that were all-new, redesigned, or freshened for the 2010 model year are, on average, more dependable in the long term than those that were carried over from 2009 with few modifications.

"There is a perception that all-new models, or models that undergo a major redesign, are more problematic than carryover models," said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates. "Data from the 2013 VDS suggests that this is not the case. The rapid improvement in fundamental vehicle dependability each year is more than offsetting any initial glitches that all-new or redesigned models may have."

While this may be true of the 2010 model-year vehicles surveyed for the 2013 VDS, as the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Initial Quality StudySM (IQS) finds, vehicle owner-reported problems regarding new technology related to audio, entertainment, and navigation systems is on the rise, with problems in this area increasing by 45% since 2006, while all other Initial Quality Study categories have improved by 24% during the same period. In fact, according to the 2012 IQS, for the first time, vehicle owners cite these vehicle components as a source of problems more frequently than any other vehicle area.

"Until recently, this type of sophisticated technology was found primarily on high-end models," said Sargent when the 2012 IQS was released in June 2012. "However, over the past few years it has rapidly found its way into the automotive mainstream. Automakers and suppliers are working hard to meet [customer] expectations with systems intended to make the driving experience safer, more convenient and more entertaining. However, the most innovative technology in the world will quickly create dissatisfaction if owners can't get it to work."

If trends in the 2012 IQS are any indicator, the proliferation in recent years of voice-recognition, touch screen, touch panel, and haptic feedback control panel technologies in newer vehicles may reverse the finding in the 2013 VDS that all-new and redesigned models are less prone to problems than older models that have been carried over from the previous model year, carryover models perhaps not equipped with high-tech upgrades that IQS survey respondents find vexing in new vehicles.

Additional Research:

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