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JDPA Quality: Interpreting Correctly

Posted in JD Powers and Associates, JDPA, Posts, purchaser experience, quality, and rankings

…be it 71 or 149 defects per car, purchasers’ experience is identical: 1 defect…
In terms of quality, we are fortunately decades away from 1980, when I bought my first new car. My Toyota had problems almost from day one. The paint peeled, the transmission broke, and over time other things went wrong. But at least I made it all the way home from the dealership, which was not the experience of my best friend in high school, who had purchased a Detroit 3 product. We’ve seen big, important improvements in average quality and less variation among brands, thanks in part to the light Dave Powers helped shed on the industry.
But in all the argument over the details of the ranking, it’s easy to forget that this is about the 2nd significant digit. The real story is that today all purchasers get good quality. Be it a Lexus at 71 or a Volvo at 149 defects per car, purchasers’ experience is identical: 1 (one) defect.
If you’re a fleet operator, or at an OEM where warranty costs matter, then the variations in defects per 100 vehicles matter. But the advice I give when asked which brand is best: they’re all equally good, choose your car for reasons other than minor differences in quality — are the seats comforable, do you like the feel when driving, and are the aesthetics acceptable — can you stand looking at the interior for the next 5 years?
…mike smitka…
PS: This is a followup to comments received via email and a response by Dave Sargent to my letter to the editor in Automotive News.