DETROIT — Toyota Motor Corp.'s precipitous drop in the 2010 J.D. Power & Associates Initial Quality Study isn't “the beginning of the end,” says an executive with the marketing firm.
“This is an unusual position for Toyota in a quality study,” David Sargent tells the Automotive Press Assn. here. “In the 24 years we've conducted the study, Toyota has been better than average in the first 23 years.”
In the study, which measures new-vehicle quality based on surveys of buyers after 90 days of ownership, Toyota averaged 117 problems per 100 vehicles, moving it from sixth place in 2009 to 21st this year.
Sargent says Toyota's recent spate of recalls directly led to its decline in the IQS.
“The recalls had a substantial effect on Toyota's performance,” he says.
Since last fall, the auto maker has called back millions of vehicles in the U.S. for everything from steering issues in the Lexus LS to stability-control system woes in the Lexus GX, corrosion problems involving the Toyota Sienna minivan and sticking accelerator pedals and ill-fitting floor mats in a number of models.
The last two issues thrust Toyota into an intense media spotlight and prompted a Congressional investigation.
Nearly all of the problems reported to J.D. Power by Toyota owners were related to the recalls, Sargent says, signaling consumers were influenced by the intense media coverage.