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Toyota Tops in Quality Again in J.D. Power Study

Industry as a whole fails to show improvement for the first time in five years. U.S. automakers gain on foreign brands.

May 07, 2003|From Associated Press

For the first time in five years, the average quality of new cars and trucks failed to improve this year, and domestic automakers continued to gain ground on foreign brands, according to a closely watched study of 2003 models released Tuesday.

Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. repeated as the automaker with the highest overall initial quality, recording an average of 115 problems per 100 vehicles, eight more than last year, according to the annual report from J.D. Power & Associates.

Toyota's Lexus brand was tops among all nameplates with 76 problems per 100 vehicles -- 27 fewer than No. 2 Cadillac.

Among manufacturers, Toyota was followed by Porsche Cars North America Inc. (117 problems), BMW of North America (124) and American Honda Motor Co. (126).

Those were the only automakers to score better than the industry average of 133 problems per 100 vehicles. That matched last year's performance.

The industry as a whole showed steady improvement from 1998 to 2002, posting an average annual quality improvement of 6.7%.

"The initial quality drive for improvement among some manufacturers has been stalled by new-model launches that were especially challenging," said Joe Ivers, J.D. Power's executive director of quality and customer satisfaction.

The study, in its 17th year, is based on responses from more than 52,000 people who bought or leased new 2003 cars and trucks.

Surveys were done in the first 90 days of ownership.

Among Detroit's Big Three automakers, General Motors Corp. fared best, with 134 problems per 100 vehicles. That compared with 130 problems last year. In a breakdown of nearly every nameplate available on the market, GM had two brands in the top five: Cadillac (103) and Buick (112).

At the other end of the rankings, however, were GM brands Saturn (158), Saab (160) and, dead last, Hummer (225).

Ford Motor Co. had 136 problems per 100 vehicles, an improvement from last year's 143. DaimlerChrysler was next with 139 problems, two fewer than last year.

With 135 problems, Nissan Motor Co. fell between GM and Ford.

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