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Volkswagen AG’s (VLKAY) luxury brand Porsche was the overall winner in the Initial Quality Study of 32 brands by J.D. Power & Associates, a unit of McGraw-Hill Financial Inc. (MHFI - Analyst Report). However, General Motors Company (GM - Analyst Report) vehicles won the maximum number of initial quality awards for the second consecutive year. The study is based on the number of complaints by 86,000 purchasers and lessees of 2014 model-year cars, trucks and SUVs in the first 90 days of purchasing or leasing the vehicle.

Overall Ranking

The overall winner of the survey was Porsche, followed by Tata Motors Limited’s (TTM - Snapshot Report) Jaguar and Toyota Motor Corporation’s (TM - Analyst Report) Lexus brands. Hyundai, which ranked fourth, was the leader among the mainstream brands. The Toyota brand ranked 5th, while Hyundai’s Kia and General Motors’ Chevrolet were tied at the 6th spot. Honda Motor Co., Ltd.’s (HMC - Analyst Report) Honda brand tied with BMW at the 7th spot and its Acura brand occupied the 16th position.

Fiat S.p.A.’s (FIATY) Chrysler brand tied with Audi at the 9th position, Dodge brand ranked 13th, and its Fiat brand was the lowest ranking brand with more than 2 problems per vehicle. The Volkswagen brand was far behind Porsche, managing only the 15th position. Ford Motor Co.'s (F - Analyst Report) Ford brand moved up to the 11th rank this year (which was the industry average), improving significantly from last year’s 21st position, while its Lincoln brand ranked 8th. In recent years, Ford’s cars were receiving complaints regarding the complexity of its MyFord Touch multimedia system.

General Motors

6 General Motors vehicles were the leaders in their respective product segments: Chevrolet Malibu in the midsize car segment, Chevrolet Silverado HD in the large heavy-duty pickup segment, Chevrolet Suburban and GMC Yukon in the large SUV segment (tie), Buick Encore in the small SUV segment (tied with Kia Sportage and Nissan Motor Co.’s (NSANY) Juke), and GMC Terrain in the compact SUV segment. Chevrolet Silverado HD and Buick Encore ranked first in their respective segments last year as well. Meanwhile, 5 General Motors vehicles ranked 2nd in their own product segments this year.

Three of General Motors’ four U.S. brands received above industry average quality rating despite the slew of recalls being announced by the automaker. Moreover, its plant in Ingersoll, Canada received a Silver Plant Assembly Line Quality Award.

Hyundai

Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate Kia Motors Corp. won in five vehicle segments. Hyundai Elantra won in the compact car segment, Hyundai Accent in the small car segment, Hyundai Genesis in the mid-size premium car segment, Kia Sportage in the small SUV category and Kia Cadenza in the large car category.

Others

This year, Ford’s vehicles were leading in three categories: the F-150 pickup in the large light-duty pickup segment, Ford Edge in the mid-sized SUV segment and Lincoln MKX model in the mid-sized premium SUV segment. Chrysler vehicles won in two categories: the Chrysler Town & Country in the minivan category and the Dodge Challenger in the mid-size sporty car category. Toyota and Honda had only one segment-leading vehicle each: Toyota’s Lexus ES in the compact premium car segment and the Honda’s Ridgeline in the mid-size pickup category.

Bottom-Line

As the Initial Quality Study uses consumers’ complaints to rank vehicles, it helps automakers in identifying problems in new vehicles. This year, the number of problems experienced by vehicle owners increased 3% year over year to an average of 116 problems per 100 vehicles.

While the severe winter increased problems related to heating and ventilation, engines, transmissions and exteriors, a large number of problems were also associated with new technologies such as touch screens and voice-recognition control features. This is troublesome news for automakers as consumers demand new features in vehicles but complain if they find them difficult to understand.

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