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Domestic brands narrow initial quality gap with foreign brands, says J.D. Power report

SHANGHAI – Automakers in China achieved significant improvements in initial quality this year, narrowing the gap between domestic and international brands and driving the overall industry average problem rate in that market to a record low, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2012 China Initial Quality StudySM (IQS) released on October 31.

The study, now in its 13th year, examines problems experienced by new-vehicle owners within the first two to six months of ownership. The study examines problems experienced by owners in two distinct categories: design-related problems and defects and malfunctions. The overall initial quality score is determined by problems reported per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower rate of problem incidence indicating higher quality.

Overall initial quality of domestic brands improved to 212 PP100 in 2012 from 232 PP100 in 2011, narrowing the gap with international brands to 95 PP100. Initial quality of international brands also improved year over year, to 117 PP100 in 2012 from 131 PP100 2011.

“Chinese domestic brands outpace the industry quality improvement in 2012,” said Dr. Mei Songlin, vice president and managing director of J.D. Power China Operations. “We are seeing remarkable improvements, particularly in the areas of ease in shifting gears with manual transmission, less incidences of brake dust and improved fuel efficiency. Yet despite this historic milestone for Chinese brands as a whole, no domestic nameplate exceeds the industry average in initial quality. This signals significant room for continued future improvement.”

Overall initial quality across the industry averages 146 PP100 in 2012, which represents the lowest number of problems since the inception of the study in 2000. Initial quality has improved by an average of 16 PP100 from 2011, largely driven by improvements among Korean and Chinese domestic brands. The industry-wide improvement in initial quality is also due to the growing shift among vehicle owners from purchasing lower-end models to purchasing higher-end models, which consistently have fewer initial quality issues.

Korean brands have the highest overall initial quality at 93 PP100. In contrast, initial quality for Japanese brands declined slightly year over year to 113 PP100 in 2012 from 108 PP100 in 2011.

Excessive fuel consumption has remained the most frequently reported problem since 2007. However, engine power loss associated with the air conditioning ties with excessive fuel consumption as the most frequently reported problems in 2012. New-vehicle owners in China tend to be particularly sensitive to noise problems, with brake noise, wind noise, engine noise and fan/blower noise accounting for four of the top 10 most commonly reported problems.

J.D. Power’s 2012 China IQS is based on evaluations from 20,639 owners of new vehicles purchased between October 2011 and June 2012. The study analyzes models in 12 vehicle segments and includes 215 different passenger-vehicle models covering 68 different makes. The study was fielded from April 2012 to August 2012 in 43 major cities across China.


J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2012 China Initial Quality StudySM (IQS)

Problems per 100 (PP100) vehicles

J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2012 China Initial Quality StudySM (IQS)




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