by Vince Bond Jr. Automotive News June 18, 2014 - 1:00 pm ET
For the first time, Hyundai-Kia group topped rival automakers in J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study, while last year’s leader, General Motors, fell to third.
Hyundai and sibling-brand Kia led the U.S. industry in five segments in the 2014 study, second only to GM’s six segment wins. The combination of the Hyundai brand’s No. 4 ranking and Kia’s sixth-place finish put the Korean manufacturer ahead of No. 2 Toyota Motor Corp., whose overall score was dragged down by its Scion brand.
The Ford brand, which had wrestled with MyFord Touch infotainment system glitches that hurt its scores in recent years, recovered to match the industry average. (Click here to see table.)
While new-vehicle launches tend to weigh down scores as consumers get acclimated to new technologies, Kia avoided that with the Cadenza -- a vehicle previously released in Korea before coming to the United States.
In contrast, GMC lost ground with the launch of its redesigned Sierra. The Sierra led the large light-duty pickup segment in 2013 but didn’t make J.D. Power’s top three pickups this year.
“Kia had a bit of help because the vehicle [Cadenza] had been in existence in Korea for a couple of years, so it’s a launch in the U.S. market but it’s not a launch of a brand-new, never-been-seen-before vehicle. That helps,” said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power, in an interview. “Some of the imports can have a bit of a head start if they launched in their domestic market first.”
Quality scores are determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles, with lower scores signaling higher quality.
The 2014 Initial Quality Study is based on feedback from more than 86,000 buyers and lessees of new 2014 model year vehicles after 90 days of ownership. The study was conducted from February to May of this year.
Porsche, part of the Volkswagen AG, had 74 problems per 100 vehicles, the top score among brands for the second consecutive year. It was followed by Jaguar (with 87 problems), Lexus (92), Hyundai (94) and Toyota (105).
Hyundai improved its score by 12 points, while Kia’s score remained at 106, 10 points better than the industry average. The Hyundai Accent, Elantra and Genesis as well as the Kia Cadenza and Sportage all nabbed segment wins.
“Receiving IQS awards in multiple vehicle segments acknowledges Hyundai’s commitment to quality and customer satisfaction across our entire product lineup, not just our luxury vehicles,” said Dave Zuchowski, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, in a statement.
GM’s Buick Encore, Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Silverado HD, Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Terrain and GMC Yukon captured segment honors.
“Having the most award recipients of any automaker shows that we are on the right track by putting the customer front and center in everything we do,” said Alicia Boler-Davis, senior vice president of GM’s global quality and customer experience.
The Porsche Panamera, which won the large premium car category, was the highest-scoring vehicle overall with 62 problems reported for every 100 vehicles.
The Hyundai Accent (65) came in second, followed by the Mazda2 (66) and Chevrolet Silverado HD (68).
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