This year’s J.D. Power Initial Quality Study has been released. It looks at problems experienced by owners of new 2020 model-year vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership. Initial quality is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.
Redesigned this year, the study measures components that fail and features that are difficult to use, hard to understand or don’t work the way owners want. J.D. Power VP of Automotive Quality Dave Sargent says “Year after year, automakers apply the insights they learn from [IQS respondents] to make positive changes. The higher problem levels we see in this year’s study don’t mean vehicle quality has worsened; rather, the redesigned study asks additional questions that allow owners to cite more of the problems that they are experiencing”. Key takeaways from this year’s IQS:
Most American brands are above average: Seven domestic brands—Dodge (136 PP100); Chevrolet (141 PP100); Ram (141 PP100); Buick (150 PP100); GMC (151 PP100); Jeep (155 PP100); and Cadillac (162 PP100)—perform better than the overall industry average of 166 PP100. Collectively, this is the best-ever performance by the American automakers—when compared with the import brands—in the history of the study.
Most premium brands are below average: For most of the past decade, mass market brands have improved relative to premium brands, and this trend continues in 2020. Premium brands generally equip their vehicles with more complex technology, which can cause problems for some owners. Genesis (142 PP100), Lexus (159 PP100) and Cadillac (162 PP100) are the only premium brands that perform better than the industry average.
Japanese brands fail to regain footing: Once regarded as the gold standard in quality, most Japanese brands have not improved as fast as competitors have and they continue to trail most Korean and American brands. Mitsubishi (148 PP100), Lexus (159 PP100) and Nissan (161 PP100) are the only Japanese brands to better than average.
Tesla profiled for first time: Tesla receives an initial quality score of 250 PP100. The automaker is not officially ranked among other brands in the study as it doesn’t meet ranking criteria. “Unlike other manufacturers, Tesla doesn’t grant us permission to survey its owners in 15 states where it is required”, said J.D. Power Automotive Divisional President Doug Betts. “However, we were able to collect a large enough sample of surveys from owners in the other 35 states and, from that base, we calculated Tesla’s score.”
Infotainment is most problematic category: Almost one-fourth of all problems cited by new-vehicle owners relate to infotainment. Top complaints include built-in voice recognition; Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity; touchscreens; built-in navigation systems; and Bluetooth connectivity.
Problems With ADAS: Driver assistance systems brought fiery wrath from respondents. “Consumers say many of them don’t work well and warning alarms go off way too often,” Sargent says.
Jaguar receives first-ever model-level award: The Jaguar E-Pace is the first Jaguar model to earn an IQS award, with a score of 159 PP100.