Efforts by U.S. auto makers to improve fuel economy and give technology-hungry consumers more multimedia has led to a decline in the initial quality of newly launched vehicles, consultant J.D. Power & Associates says in an annual study.
The good news is overall initial quality improved again this year, with problems per 100 vehicles dropping to 107 from 109 in 2010. The consultancy says 73,790 surveys were returned on 32 brands and 202 models.
J.D. Power says in its report that carryover models, or cars and trucks receiving no major redesign, carried the day for auto makers. New models stumbled.
Blame efforts to dial up fuel economy through software tweaks to engines and transmissions and the acceleration of multi-media technology offerings such as hands-free and voice-activation systems.
“Auto makers must not lose their focus on the importance of these models also achieving exceptional quality levels,” says David Sargent, a J.D. Power research executive.