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.