Non-Premium Brands, Led by Kia, Outperform in 2016 Initial Quality Study; Domestic Brands Outperform Imports
Not only does new-vehicle initial quality improve by 6 percentage points this year, but for the first time in a decade, non-premium brands, led by Kia, outperform premium nameplates, according to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Initial Quality StudySM (IQS).
Although both non-premium and premium brands improve in terms of the study’s key metric—fewer problems per 100 vehicles (PP100)—non-premium brands average 4 fewer defects (104 PP100) than premium brands, which average 108 PP100. This is only the second time in the history of the 30-year study that non-premium brands have averaged fewer PP100 than premium brands. The last year this happened was in 2006.
This is also the first time in 27 years that a non-premium brand achieves this level of initial quality. Kia whittles off 3 PP100 from its 2015 score of 86 PP100 to average 83 PP100. The Kia Soul (Compact MPV) and Sportage (Small SUV), which, together, make up 40% of the brand’s sales volume in the United States, lead their segments with the lowest PP100 scores. Also, the Soul is among the top 10 models industry-wide in terms of initial quality.
Domestic Brands Outperform Imports
In addition, domestic brands outperform imports in terms of initial quality for the first time since 2010, according to the study. The Detroit Three advance at a greater rate overall, improving their PP100 scores an average of 10 percentage points from 2015. At the brand level, Chevrolet leads domestics, ranking sixth overall with an average of 95 PP100—an improvement of 6 PP100 from 2015. Segment leaders with the lowest PP100 scores are Equinox (Compact SUV); Silverado (1500 and Heavy Duty); Spark (City Car); and Tahoe (Large SUV).
Overall, nine non-premium brands have lower defect or problem scores in the 2016 IQS, compared with last year. These non-premium brands, in rank order, are Kia, Hyundai, Toyota, Chevrolet, Buick, Nissan, Ford, GMC, and Volkswagen. Only three of five premium brands that perform better than the industry average improve their scores. They are, in rank order, BMW, Lexus and Lincoln.