Lincoln named most reliable brand in 2011 by JD Power

Article by Christian Andrei, on March 19, 2011

The brand that has the most number of reliable vehicles is now Lincoln, the first time that Ford Motor Co.'s premium brand has been given the recognition by an annual survey: J.D. Power and Associates' 2011 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study. Lincoln was able to take the top spot that Porsche had held.

In the 2011 ranking, Lincoln was followed by Lexus, Jaguar, Porsche, Toyota, Acura, Buick, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Hyundai and Honda. The annual study found out that overall vehicle dependability continues to improve, however the gains are slowing as carmakers overcome traditional mechanical problems but have difficulty with newer, electronic-based features.

J.D. Power’s annual study considers how well vehicles hold up after three years of ownership by determining the number of problems owners face during the past 12 months with 2008 models. J.D. Power studies 202 problem areas. Scores are based on problems reported for every 100 vehicles.

It was concluded that import brands are better than U.S. automakers in long-term dependability despite closing the gap in the past few years in a separate survey that gauges initial quality.

In 2011, the industry posted the highest rate of dependability since 1990, when the study was first launched. It recorded an average of 151 problems per 100 vehicles in 2011 compared to the 155 problems posted in 2010.

According to the Vehicle Dependability Study, while domestic brands managed to close the gap in initial quality with import brands, there remains a significant variation between the two in vehicle dependability. In fact, import brands outperformed domestic brands by 18 PP100 in 2011. The results of the 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study proved to be consistent with findings of the 2008 Initial Quality Study (SM) that evaluated the models included in the VDS after 90 days of ownership.

Although domestic brand cars reported fewer problems -- at an average of 135 PP100 -- than import brand cars (average of 147 PP100), trucks and crossovers of import brands have significantly fewer problems than their domestic counterparts. Long-term dependability does not only affect brand image and brand loyalty, but also influences dealership service and customer service spending.

This is because the increasing number of problems experienced means that vehicle owners are becoming more likely to employ non-dealer service facilities for paid service work. Furthermore, an increasing number of problems means decreasing percentage of vehicle owners saying they "definitely will" return to their dealer for service. On the other hand, 76 percent of owners who said they have no problems indicated that they "definitely will" return to the dealer for paid service.

In contrast, only 42 percent of vehicle owners who said they experienced six or more problems indicated that they "definitely will" return to the dealer for paid service. The 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study covers over 43,700 original owners of 2008 model year vehicles following three years of ownership. This study was conducted between October and December 2010.

Press Release

J.D. Power and Associates Reports: While Vehicle Dependability Continues to Improve, New Technologies and Features Pose Challenges for Automakers

Overall vehicle dependability has improved from 2010, with automakers succeeding in reducing problem rates in many traditional areas, but experiencing some challenges in overcoming problems with newer technologies and features, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS) released today.

The study, which measures problems experienced during the past 12 months by original owners of three-year-old (2008 model year) vehicles, includes 202 different problem symptoms across all areas of the vehicle. Overall dependability is determined by the level of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.

The Vehicle Dependability Study is used extensively by vehicle manufacturers worldwide to help design and build better vehicles-which typically translates to higher resale values and higher customer loyalty. It also helps consumers make more-informed choices for both new- and used-vehicle purchases. Among new-vehicle shoppers, perception of quality and dependability is the most influential factor in their decision to purchase a specific vehicle model, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

In 2011, overall vehicle dependability averages 151 PP100-the lowest problem rate since the inception of the study in 1990-and improves from 170 PP 100 in 2009. Between 2009 and 2011, annual improvement for the industry has averaged 6 percent, which is slightly lower than historical rates of improvement. During the past decade, industry improvement has averaged 8 percent each year.

The slowdown in improvement is largely attributable to increased rates of problems with electronic features in vehicles, including audio, entertainment and navigation systems and new safety features, such as tire pressure monitoring systems.

"Automakers, as a whole, have made significant improvements in reducing traditional problems, particularly with vehicle interiors; engines and transmissions; and steering and braking during the past several years," said David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power and Associates. "However, as manufacturers add new features and technologies to satisfy customer demand and new legislation, they face the potential for introducing new problems."

According to Sargent, as newer technologies become more widespread, enhancing the dependability of these features has become an important point of differentiation among automakers.

Highest-Ranked Nameplates and Models
For the first time since the inception of the study, Lincoln leads the overall nameplate rankings in 2011. Lincoln improves by 13 PP100 from 2010. Lexus follows Lincoln in the nameplate rankings. Rounding out the top five nameplates are Jaguar, Porsche and Toyota. The Porsche 911 has the fewest problems in the industry, with just 68 PP100.

Toyota Motor Corporation continues to perform well in long-term dependability and garners seven segment awards-more than any other automaker in 2011-for the Lexus RX, Scion xB, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Prius, Toyota Sienna, Toyota Tacoma and Toyota Tundra. Ford Motor Company receives four model awards for the Ford Fusion, Ford Mustang, Lincoln MKZ and Lincoln Navigator. General Motors (Buick Lucerne, Cadillac DTS, and Chevrolet Tahoe) and Honda Motor Company (Acura RL, Honda CR-V and Honda Fit) each receive three awards. In addition, the following models also receive awards: BMW X3, Mazda MX-5 Miata, and Mercedes-Benz CLK.

The study finds that while domestic brands have closed the gap in initial quality with import brands, there is still a considerable difference between the two in vehicle dependability, with import brands outperforming domestic brands by 18 PP100 in 2011. This is consistent with findings of the 2008 Initial Quality Study,SM which examined the models included in the 2011 VDS after 90 days of ownership. While domestic brand cars have fewer problems (135 PP100, on average) than import brand cars (147 PP100, on average), trucks and crossover vehicles1 of import brands have considerably fewer problems than those of domestic brands.

In addition to affecting brand image and brand loyalty, long-term dependability also has a notable effect on dealership service and customer service spending. As the number of problems experienced increases, owners are increasingly likely to use non-dealer service facilities for paid service work. In addition, as the number of problems increases, the percentage of owners who say they "definitely will" return to their dealer for service diminishes. Among owners who indicate they have experienced no problems, 76 percent indicate they "definitely will" return to the dealer for paid service. This proportion decreases to 42 percent among owners who say they experienced six or more problems.

The 2011 Vehicle Dependability Study is based on responses from more than 43,700 original owners of 2008 model-year vehicles after three years of ownership. The study was fielded between October and December 2010.

Find more detailed findings on vehicle dependability as well as model photos and specs by reading an article and reviewing brand and segment dependability ratings at JDPower.com.

1The truck category includes both pickup trucks and vans, while the crossover vehicle category includes crossover vehicles, multi-purpose vehicles and utility vehicles.

About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company providing forecasting, performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and solutions. The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies
Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies is a leading global financial information and education company that helps professionals and students succeed in the Knowledge Economy. Leading brands include Standard & Poor's, McGraw-Hill Education, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates. The Corporation has approximately 21,000 employees with more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2010 were $6.2 billion. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com.

Topics: lincoln, jd power

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