Engine and Transmission Issues Top List of Problems for Mass Market Vehicles, Affecting Customer Loyalty

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Beijing Hyundai Receives Three of 10 Model-Level Awards; BMW Ranks Highest in Vehicle Dependability among Luxury Brands; Volkswagen Ranks Highest among Mass Market Brands

Shanghai: 16 December 2014 — Engine and transmission problems are the most frequently reported vehicle dependability issues among mass market brands, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2014 China Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS) released today.

Now in its fifth year, the study measures problems experienced during the past six months by original owners of vehicles after 37 to 48 months of ownership. The study examines 202 problem symptoms across eight categories: engine and transmission; vehicle exterior; driving experience; features/ controls/ displays; audio/ entertainment/ navigation; seats; heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC); and vehicle interior. Overall dependability is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.

Overall vehicle dependability averages 146 PP100 in the luxury segment and 196 PP100 in the mass market segment. Owners of mass market vehicles most frequently report engine and transmission problems, accounting for the majority of the 50 PP100-gap in performance between mass market and luxury brands. The most common problems among luxury vehicles are in the features/ controls/ display category.

Engine and transmission problems are also the primary contributor to the performance gap between Chinese domestic (224 PP100) and international (185 PP100) brands, followed by vehicle exterior (11 PP100). Owners of domestic brands report problems with the gearshift being hard to operate and the engine losing power when the air conditioning is on—both engine and transmission problems—more often than owners of international brands (13 PP100 vs. 6 PP100, respectively).

Engine/ transmission issues are also among the top five most bothersome problems cited by vehicle owners: engine loses power when air conditioning is on and excessive fuel consumption. Among owners who indicate that excessive fuel consumption is among the most bothersome problems they experience, 57 percent have driven their vehicle fewer than 20,000 kilometers and 28 percent indicate the fuel consumption problem is severe enough that they may not repurchase the same brand when they shop for their next vehicle.

“While auto manufacturers are continually looking for ways to improve fuel economy, problems with engine/ transmission remain and continue to be the greatest challenge for automakers,” said Dr. Mei Songlin, vice president and managing director at J.D. Power China. “Innovation should not mean a compromise of quality, specifically because greater loyalty is one of the results that come from owners experiencing fewer problems with their vehicle.”

Key Findings

  • When examining vehicle dependability by origin, Korean makes have the fewest number of problems, averaging 163 PP100, which is 33 PP100 fewer than the mass market average of 196 PP100.
  • For the first time since 2010, the features/ controls/ displays category has the second-largest number of reported problems.
  • Windshield wipers/ washers are broken or not working properly is among the most common vehicle dependability problems in both the luxury and mass market segments.

2014 China VDS Ranking Highlights

BMW ranks highest in vehicle dependability among luxury nameplates, averaging 137 PP100. Cadillac ranks second with 146 PP100.

Volkswagen ranks highest among mass market nameplates, with a score of 144 PP100. Beijing Hyundai ranks second (158 PP100) and Guangqi Honda ranks third (165 PP100).

Models from Beijing Hyundai rank highest in three of the 10 award segments. Chinese brands rank highest in four vehicle segments. BMW, Guangqi Honda and Dongfeng Yueda Kia each rank highest in one segment.

Models ranking highest overall in their respective segments are:

  • ŸCompact mini: Changan Benben Mini
  • Compact: Geely Kingkong/ Jinying
  • Compact upper: Hyundai Accent
  • Midsize basic; Hyundai Elantra
  • Midsize: Hyundai Yuedong Elantra
  • Midsize upper: Honda Accord
  • Midsize luxury: BMW 5 Series
  • Midsize SUV: KIA Sportage
  • Compact MPV: Wuling Hongguang
  • Mini van: Wuling Sunshine

The 2014 China Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) is based on evaluations from 17,054 owners of vehicles purchased between June 2010 and August 2011. The study analyzes models in 20 vehicle segments, which include 155 different passenger-vehicle models from 55 different brands. The study was fielded from June to September 2014 in 43 major cities across China.

Media Relations Contacts

Michelle Meng; Beijing, China; +86 01 6569 2702; yutian.meng@jdpa.com

John Tews; Troy, Michigan USA; 001 248 680 6218; john.tews@jdpa.com

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