According to the study results recently released by J.D. Power and Associates, the standard new vehicle being sold in the states in 2016 is better than it’s ever been. Improvements have been springing up at a near-record pace, though that particular statistic is only one of many surprising factors noted in the 30th annual Initial Quality Study.
It’s generally expected that Japanese and European luxury brands dominate the Initial Quality Study, but this year seems to be the exception that proves the rule. The Power study is based on responses from 80,000 U.S. new vehicle owners and found that more mainstream brands are leading the pack for once.
The overall winner of the 2016 Initial Quality Study was the Kia, surprisingly enough, then Porsche in second place and Hyundai in third.
According to Power’s vice president of U.S. automotive wuality Renee Stephens, the auto industry is “making some of the highest quality products we’ve ever seen.”
“What was really fascinating,” she continued, was that the score of the typical manufacturers improved by 6 percent, which was “double what we saw year.”
That speedy acceleration in product quality was even more surprising given that “automakers are adding so many new features,” including Bluetooth handsfree phone systems, voice-activated navigation, in-vehicle WiFi and other high-tech gear that has been propelling the automotive experience into the connected world of the future.The successful introduction of new infotainment and powertrain products may help to boost auto sales in the US.
While there were handfuls of surprises in this year’s report, many found that the most surprising aspect of all was the ascent of the Korean auto manufacturers.
“They’ve just been moving up, up, up,” Stephens explained. She noted that a decade ago, both Kia and Hyundai had repeatedly lagged at the bottom of the quality charts and even been the butt of jokes in tv sitcoms like Eastbound and Down.
In general, the unusually large gains in quality made by non-luxury brands are a good sign for the American automotive industry. Detroit’s automotive brands did particularly well, according to Stephens. General Motors produced models that led in seven of the individual product segments. Some of the winning models included the Chevrolet Spark City Car and Chevrolet Silverado Large Light Duty Pickup. Toyota was the fourth-ranked brand overall and won six different categories.
Detroit is said to be making a comeback in terms of possessing a significant presence in the auto manufacturing world.
Most improved player went to the trans-Atlantic Fiat Chrysler Automobiles; its products improved by a whopping 13 percent overall, though Fiat had nowhere to go but up after being ranked second-lowest among the 33 brands studied.
“This is really a great year for Chrysler,” said Stephens. “They’ve moved the needle (though) there’s still more to do.”
Some are chalking up the overall improvement on the part of American automakers to the fact that few automakers have launched revolutionary new vehicles this year. New vehicle launches tend to be difficult for auto manufacturers, and a fair amount of brands like Smart, Volvo, Land Rover, Mini and Jaguar have suffered as a result of having debuted completely new vehicles.
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