Volkswagen Group topped the 2012 Total Quality Index ahead of Ford Motor Company and Chrysler Group in the survey that ranks manufacturers based on the number and seriousness of problems reported by owners of new vehicles as well as the perception of quality the owner gets from the vehicle.
Renowned quality leader Toyota Motor Corporation, which includes Lexus, was the highest ranked in terms of problems reported by owners, but fell short of Volkswagen, which includes Audi, in the Total Quality Index, where the Germans were found to offer owners a greater feel and impression of quality than the Japanese.
The result is welcome news for Volkswagen, which has struggled in similar US vehicle quality surveys conducted by analyst JD Power and Associates in recent months.
In February’s 2012 US Vehicle Dependability Study, Audi fell short of the industry average ranking and Volkswagen brand was seventh from the bottom, while in June’s 2012 Initial Quality Study, Audi again came in just below average while Volkswagen slumped to fourth from the bottom.
Strategic Vision president Alexander Edwards said innovation was a key factor in owners’ perceptions of quality.
“The key to success and sales will be products that satisfy the customer's increasingly insatiable need for innovation, and the complete picture of quality,” Edwards said.
Strategic Vision vice president Christopher Chaney said German and American manufacturers have closed the ‘problems reported’ gap to the Japanese in recent years while moving beyond them from an innovation perspective.
“Full-line corporations like Toyota and American Honda Motor are as strong as ever in terms of percentages of people reporting problems,” Chaney said.
“It's just that others are doing such a great job also, and they have excelled in providing the kind of innovation that influences perceptions of quality.
“Look at the Chevrolet Volt. It may not be a sales leader, but those who purchased it were heavily influenced by a number of quality cues that made it a segment leader in Total Quality.”
Ford performed strongest in the SUV and pick-up categories, with the Ford Flex, F150 and F-250/F-350 taking out the top spots.
Honda also had three varied winners in the Accord Crosstour, Odyssey and the Ridgeline, while Toyota failed to take top spot in any individual segment.
Strategic Vision’s 2012 Total Quality Index is based on the responses of 45,390 owners of 2012 model year vehicles purchased between September and December 2011.
2012 Strategic Vision Total Quality Index segment winners:
- Small car – Fiat 500
- Small multi-function – Volkswagen Golf
- Mid-size car – Chevrolet Volt
- Mid-size multi-function – Honda Accord Crosstour
- Large car – Dodge Charger
- Near-luxury car – Audi A4
- Luxury car – Audi A8
- Speciality coupe – Mini Coupe
- Premium coupe – BMW 1 Series Coupe, Chevrolet Corvette
- Convertible – Volkswagen Eos
- Premium convertible – BMW Z4
- Minivan – Honda Odyssey
- Entry SUV – Volkswagen Tiguan
- Mid-size crossover – Ford Flex
- Mid-size SUV – Jeep Grand Cherokee
- Large SUV – Nissan Armada
- Near-luxury SUV – Range Rover Evoque
- Luxury SUV – BMW X6
- Standard pick-up – Honda Ridgeline
- Full-size pick-up – Ford F-150
- Heavy-duty pick-up – Ford F-250/F-350