TOKYO: 21 October 2015 ― Japanese automakers top the list of the brands with the most dependable vehicles in Japan, and Japanese models rank highest in each segment, according to the inaugural J.D. Power 2015 Japan Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS) released today.
The inaugural study measures problems experienced during the past 12 months by original owners of vehicles after 37-54 months of ownership. The study examines 177 problem symptoms across eight categories: vehicle exterior; driving experience; features/ controls/ displays (FCD); audio/ communication/ entertainment/ navigation (ACEN); heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); seats; vehicle interior; and engine/ transmission. Overall dependability is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.
Lexus ranks nameplates with a score of 54 PP100, followed by Daihatsu (66 PP100) and Honda, Mitsubishi and Toyota in a tie (69 PP100 each). The overall vehicle dependability score averages 72 PP100.
Toyota has two models that rank highest in their segment: SAI in the midsize segment and the Alphard in the minivan segment. The Nissan Cube ranks highest in the compact segment and the Suzuki Alto ranks highest in the mini-car segment.
“The Japanese automakers have long focused on build high-quality, dependable vehicles, and that is evident in the low number of problems owners of those vehicles are reporting,” said Atsushi Kawahashi, senior director of the Japan automotive practice at J.D. Power. “All automakers need to maintain that focus, especially as vehicles continue to increase in complexity and new technology is added.”
The study finds that, as the number of kilometers driven increases, so do the number of problems reported by owners. On average, owners who drive 10,000 kilometers or more per year experience at least one problem with their vehicle.
Vehicles included in the study average a total of 33,326 kilometers. Owners of vehicles with fewer than 20,000 km report an average of 62 PP100, while owners of vehicles with 20,000-36,000 km report 80 PP100 and owners with more than 36,000 report 104 PP100.
The most frequently reported problems are in the exterior category (15.0 PP100), followed by interior (13.6 PP100) and engine/ transmission (11.3 PP100). The top problems reported are unpleasant smells from the air vents at 3.5 PP100, followed by exterior light bulb failure, noisy brakes, and battery failure, each at 2.1 PP100.
“There is a correlation between the number of problems reported and brand repurchase and model recommendation intent,” said Kawahashi. “Given the overall average period of ownership in Japan is more than seven years, it is important for automotive manufacturers to focus on reducing the number of problems owners experience with their vehicle.”
Among owners who have not experienced any problems with their vehicle, 72 percent say they “definitely would” or “probably would” recommend their model to others, and 69 percent say they “definitely would” or “probably would” repurchase the same brand. In contrast, among owners who have experienced at least one problem, intended advocacy drops to 66 percent and loyalty drops to 61 percent.
- The mini-car segment averages the fewest problems (68 PP100), followed by the compact (69 PP100), midsize (71 PP100), large (77 PP100) and minivan (83 PP100) segments.
- The most frequently reported problems in the mini-car segment are in the exterior category, followed by engine/ transmission and interior.
- Owners of compact and midsize vehicles most frequently report problems in the interior category, followed by exterior and engine/ transmission.
- The most frequently reported problems in the minivan and large segments are in the exterior category, followed by interior, engine/ transmission and ACEN.
- Owners whose vehicle has undergone its first shaken inspection—an inspection required in Japan for all motor vehicles with 250 cc (15 cubic inches) or larger engines to ensure they are properly maintained and safe to be on the road—within the past year report 68 PP100, compared with 82 PP100 among owners whose vehicles were inspected more than a year ago.
The 2015 Japan Vehicle Dependability Study is based on responses from 17,020 purchasers of new vehicles in the first 37 to 54 months of ownership. The study, which includes 16 automotive brands and 132 models, ranks models with a sample size of 100 or more usable questionnaire returns. The study was fielded in July 2015.
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 For a segment award to be issued, there must be at least three models with 67 percent of market sales in any given award segment. In the large segment, these criteria were not met, so no award has been presented.