More on that JD Power initial quality survey

I reported on Saab’s showing in the 2009 JD Power Initial Quality Survey earlier today. It would seem that Saab didn’t do so well in the survey if you go by the graph alone…..
JD Power
……but what this graph misses out on is improvements in the industry over all, and by certain brands in particular. Those details might be in the accompanying text, but I wouldn’t know that because like what I imagine is a majority of people, when faced with limited time and the choice between a whole barrage of text and a simple chart, I’ll look at the simple chart.
The Detroit News has an interesting blog post about this today:

J.D. Power won’t disclose the vehicle with the most problems, but will say it had 181 problems per 100 vehicles sampled. That is less than two problems per vehicle, and a respectable showing compared to the early years of the study.
“No one is building junk anymore – those days are over,” said David Sargeant, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and author of the study. “We’re really talking about the difference between a really good car and a great car these days.”

It’d be nice if that quote was presented with the main chart, rather than buried in some accompanying text or an external website.

Saab has 138,000,000,000 problems per 100,000,000,000 vehicles!!

……and that’s 30 billion problems more per 100 billion cars made than the industry average!!!!
The latest JD Power initial product quality survey has just been released and as has been the practice since Adam wore short pants, Saab hasn’t done well.
The actual measure that JDP use is problems reported per 100 vehicles. On this scale, Saab had 138 problems recorded, though there’s no description as to what these problems are, or the reliability of the data.
The best brand was Lexus with 84-per and the worst brand was MINI with 165-per.
Here’s the table. Click
JDP2009IQS.jpg
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I’m sure that car companies have a love/hate relationship with this survey. Those at the top probably love it and those lower down the list probably cower at the thought of it coming out.
Why?
Because being at the bottom of this report gives an initial impression that product isn’t much good in quality terms. The measure of problems-per-100 doesn’t help this.
But if you move the decimal point a few digits to the left, you’ll see that the actual measure per car makes the race a lot closer.
In fact, as the Associated Press points out, there’s less than one problem-per-vehicle difference between first and last on that table. Add to that the fact that industry, as a whole, is improving and things don’t seem so bad after all.
They just look bad on a graph.

Saab Quality Ratings Problems

If you owned a 2004 Saab 9-3 and you sold it yesterday you’d be pretty happy right now.
As if resale value issues weren’t tough enough already, JD Power released their vehicle dependability ratings earlier today. These ratings rank vehicles that are three years old based on problems recorded per 100 vehicles. The early Saab 9-3 Sport Sedans have suffered with a poor anecdotal reputation and it seems that reputation now has some numbers to back it up.
The industry average, as recorded by JD Power, was 216 problems per 100 vehicles. Saab ranked quite poorly with 319 problems per 100 vehicles.
It could have been worse. We could be cheering for Isuzu, Suzuki or Land Rover. Those three did worse.
These rankings should improve over the next couple of years for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, problems with the 9-3 did get sorted a little more in the 2005 and 2006 years. Secondly, a larger number of non-9-3 vehicles should take up some numbers. The 9-5 was quite solid all this time, but it occupies such a small proportion of Saab’s sales in the US that it hardly makes a dent. Next year, though, the first 9-2x’s will be three years old and the inclusion of 9-7x and 9-2x figures over the coming years should temper things a bit.

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