WEST POINT — Kia has been recognized as the top brand for initial quality by J.D. Power, the first time in 27 years a nonpremium brand has held the top spot.
“For the brand itself, it is absolutely huge,” said Stuart Countess, chief administrative officer of the Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia plant in West Point. “Being a nonpremium brand and winning … is just outstanding, but I think more importantly what it means for the facility, KMMG in West Point, Georgia, is tremendous. The amount of vehicles put out, the Sorento and the Optima (manufactured at the West Point plant) heavily influence what goes in the overall brand score.”
“One of the traits of this entire factory is that everybody is responsible for quality every day,” he said. “So it takes the 3,000 people who work there to do it. … It’s what we focus on, what we teach people, and this year they got to see the rewards of why we do that on a day in and day out basis.”
He also gave credit to the about 12,000 employees at the facility’s parts suppliers for helping maintain quality standards.
“It clearly sends a message that the brand has changed,” Countess said of the quality recognition. “We believe that it’s certainly going to improve sales conditions. It’s going to bring people who never considered the Kia brand to look at what is happening, not only in the brand, but, I think more importantly, what is happening out at KMMG. We fully expect to see increases there.”
J.D. Power recognized the brand as the highest scoring nameplate in its 2016 Initial Quality Study out of all 33 makes in the United States. Kia’s rank was driven by segment-leading performances from the Sportage and Soul, while Rio, Forte and Sorento all ranked in the top three of their respective categories, states a Kia Motors America press release.
“Ranking number one in the entire industry for initial quality is the result of Kia’s decade-long focus on craftsmanship and continuous improvement, and reflects the voice of our customers, which is the ultimate affirmation,” said Michael Sprague, chief operating officer and EVP for Kia Motors America, in a press release. “As the highest ranked brand in the industry, there is no doubt Kia is a world-class automaker.”
J.D. Power, based in Costa Mesa, California, is a global marketing information services company providing performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and solutions. The company’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. It has compiled the Initial Quality Study annually for 30 years.
Press releases from Kia Motors America and J.D. Power contributed to this report.
Matthew Strother is the editor of LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2153.