A look at the quality of JD Power’s quality survey

Good evening all. I’m currently on a wireless connection that’s the internet equivalent of trying to pee through a straw. I can only open one window at a time lest the web gods curse me for impertinence.
Entries are therefore brief. Even though I’ve been through the fire of owning seven Saabs and helping raise two teenagers, there’s only so much patience one can have……
We all winced a little at the JD Power Initial Quality study that was released recently. Saab once again had a lower-placed ranking in what is, I believe, a flawed piece of work that gets far too much attention (says he who’s giving it more attention right now….)
The New York Times ‘Wheels Blog’ recently covered the survey from a singular perspective – the placing of the Mini.
Mini placed dead last in the survery, in case you didn’t notice or remember. That result surprised me, and it obviously surprised the NYT, too, so they looked into it a bit further.

……Mini has been a much-beloved brand with strong sales. Last week, Mini announced it would be adding 17 more dealerships in the United States over the next 18 months in anticipation of double-digit sales growth by 2011.
So what gives?
As it turns out, some of things that Mini owners absolutely adore about their little cars are also the “problems” that owners mark down in their J.D. Power quality survey.
“Mini has some idiosyncrasies that we engineer into our cars,” Jim McDowell, vice president of Mini USA, told The Associated Press (via MSNBC). As examples, Mr. McDowell cited the Mini’s unusual ambient interior lighting and windshield-wiper control, which is a button instead of a knob.
David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power, confirmed Mr. McDowell’s claims. “A number of Mini’s problems are related to the intuitiveness of the car’s interior dash controls,” he said. The Initial Quality Survey covers the first 90 days of ownership. And during that time, owners are still getting used to the controls of their cars.
One of the quirks of the J.D. Power survey, when it comes to the interior features category, is that it gives equal weight to items that are broken (and need to be fixed by the dealer) and items that are difficult to understand or use, or designed in a way that’s not so intuitive, Mr. Sargent said.

In the most basic terms, the survey’s a dud and JD Power acknowledge their own flaws.
I guess Saab’s job remains – continue to improve, work to get the message out to people and work even harder to get people to drive the cars.

Thanks Brooks!

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