Chinese Domestic Brands Improve in Vehicle Dependability, Further Narrowing the Gap with International Brands
BMW is the Highest Ranked Nameplate in Vehicle Dependability; Japanese Models Receive Seven of 11 Segment Awards; Chinese Models Garner Three Awards
SHANGHAI: 21 December 2012 — Chinese nameplates show significant improvements in long-term durability for a second consecutive year and continue to narrow the gap with international brands, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2012 China Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS) released today.
Now in its third year, the study measures problems experienced during the past six months by original owners of vehicles after 25 to 36 months of ownership,1 and includes 202 different problem symptoms across eight categories: engine and transmission; vehicle exterior; driving experience; features, controls and displays; audio and entertainment; seats; heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC); and vehicle interior. Overall dependability is determined by the level of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.
In 2012, overall vehicle dependability averages 196 PP100, an improvement of 32 PP100 from 2011. The gain is mainly attributable to improvement in the engine/transmission and driving experience categories, with problem incidence decreasing by an average of 9 PP100 and 8 PP100, respectively, from 2011.
The compact vehicle segment improves a significant 173 PP100 from 2011, notably contributing to the industry-wide gain in vehicle dependability in 2012. Reported problems in the mini van segment have decreased by 85 PP100 from 2011. The compact and mini van segments had most frequently reported problems in 2011.
Chinese domestic brands have narrowed the gap in vehicle dependability with international brands to 80 PP100 in 2012 from 139 PP100 in 2011. Among domestic brands, vehicle dependability in 2012 improves to an average of 250 PP100 from 327 PP100 in 2011, while international brands average 170 PP100 in 2012, an 18 PP100 improvement from 2011.
"Domestic brands continue to show improvement in both initial quality and long-term dependability," said Tony Zhou, director of automotive research at J.D. Power China operations. "While there is still room for significant improvement for Chinese nameplates in specific categories, such as engine and transmission, vehicles produced by domestic brands are becoming demonstrably more attractive to Chinese consumers."
Highest-Ranked Nameplates and Models
Models from Japanese manufacturers receive seven awards from the 11 award segments. Chinese domestic brands rank highest in three segments. Among European brands, German nameplate Audi earns one award. Models ranking highest overall in their respective segment include:
- Compact: Suzuki Alto
- Premium Compact: Tianjin Weizhi
- Entry Midsize: Toyota Vios
- Midsize: Nissan Tiida
- Lower Premium Midsize: BYD F6
- Upper Premium Midsize: Toyota Camry Classic
- Entry Luxury: Audi A4L
- Luxury: Toyota Crown
- SUV: Toyota Highlander
- MPV: Honda Odyssey
- Mini Van: Hafei Minyi
BMW is the highest-ranked nameplate in vehicle dependability among the 54 nameplates included in the study, achieving just 98 PP100. GAC Toyota (107 PP100) ranks second and Mercedes-Benz (113 PP 100) ranks third. Audi and Subaru rank fourth in a tie with 117 PP100 each. Five domestic brands ranks above industry average in vehicle dependability.
Frequently Reported Problems
The most frequently reported problems in 2012 are: windshield wipers or washers are broken or not working properly; the engine loses power when air conditioning is turned on; air conditioning doesn't get cold enough fast enough; brakes are noisy; and exterior light problem due to bulb failure. These top problem areas are consistent with those in the 2011 study.
Many of the key vehicle dependability problems and problem symptoms are consistent with the top problems identified in the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2012 China Initial Quality StudySM (IQS), which measures problems customers experience during the first two to six months ownership. Specifically, six of the top 10 problem symptoms in initial vehicle quality also rank among the top problem areas in vehicle dependability, including: engine loses power when air conditioning is turned on; air conditioning doesn't get cold enough fast enough; brakes are noisy; air from vents smells stale or moldy; excessive fuel consumption; and excessive wind noise.
When compared with the U.S. market, there are several problem areas unique to the Chinese market, namely: engine loses power when air conditioning is turned on; emergency/parking brake; and horn malfunctions.
The study also finds that 45 percent of owners indicate they have replaced at least one vehicle component during the past six months. The most frequently replaced components include exterior lights; horns; interior lights; clutch; and battery.2
"Frequent component replacements increase direct warranty costs for automakers, and also increase the likelihood of customer-reported problems and diminished brand loyalty," says Dr. Mei Songlin, vice president and managing director of J.D. Power China Operations. "Reducing problem incidence with these replaceable components may pay off in the long term by driving favorable perceptions toward vehicle dependability."
Among owners who indicate that they have experienced no problems with their vehicle, 30 percent say they "definitely will" recommend their vehicle to family and friends. In contrast, this proportion declines to 18 percent among owners who indicate experiencing more than one problem.
The 2012 China Vehicle Dependability Study is based on evaluations from 14,127 owners of vehicles purchased between June 2009 and August 2010 and includes 147 models from 54 different brands. The study was fielded between June and September 2012 in 37 cities across China.
J.D. Power and Associates' benchmark studies evaluate products and services based on customer feedback on their experiences to help businesses make informed decisions about product and service improvements. The research is conducted through an entirely independent process that is funded by J.D. Power, which is key to the company's independence and unbiased position. Study results are based solely on the opinions of customers. The opinion of J.D. Power is not included in the study results.
The China Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) is one of the customer-based benchmark studies conducted by J.D. Power Asia Pacific in China for the automotive industry. Other 2012 automotive studies conducted by J.D. Power Asia Pacific include:
- The China New-Vehicle Intender Study (NVIS), which examines pre-purchase perceptions and considerations, was released in June.
- The China Customer Service Index (CSI) Study, which examines satisfaction with the after-sales service experience among vehicle owners between 12 and 24 months of ownership, was released in July.
- The China Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study, which measures satisfaction with the new-vehicle sales process, was released in August.
- The China Initial Quality Study (IQS), which measures problems experienced by new-vehicle owners during the first two to six months of ownership, was released in October.
- The China Original Equipment Tire Satisfaction Index Study (OE-TSI), which measures satisfaction among original equipment tire owners during the first 12 to 24 months of ownership, was released in November.
- The China Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, which measures what excites and delights owners about their new vehicle's performance and design during the first two to six months of ownership, was released in late November.
 This excludes frequently replaced wear items such as brake pads, tires and wiper blades.
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