Auto Defects Scoreboard

2 May 2000

Auto Industry Defects Unchanged for 2000, But Brands Fluctuate
    SAN DIEGO, May 2 While industry-wide one in three new
vehicle owners reported defects with their purchase, only one-in-ten reported
that they impacted their satisfaction on Strategic Vision's 2000 Problem
Impact Measure(TM) (PIM).  The San Diego-based research firm today released
its study of the effects of things-gone-wrong on buyers' overall sense of
satisfaction.

    "We wanted to measure when a defect became a problem," said Strategic
Vision vice president Daniel Gorrell, "because we knew they were not the same
thing for consumers.  In traditional measures that simply count defects, a
loose screw has the same impact as failed brakes.  The industry has improved
sufficiently to move beyond this."

    Industry scores remained constant, but brand PIM scores varied widely.
Lexus (4 percent of new owners) and Infiniti (5%) were the brands least
impacted by problems, followed by Toyota (6%), Acura and BMW (both 7%).  At
the bottom were Suzuki (23 percent impacted), Cadillac (21%), Kia (19%),
Daewoo and Isuzu (both 15%).

    Kia improved the most (9 percentage points), followed by Lexus (7),
Volvo (5) and Jeep (4).  On the other end, scores slipped most for Cadillac
(9 percentage points), Suzuki (7), Jaguar (4) and Saturn (4).

    "Interestingly, many of those whose scores worsened had new models," said
Gorrell.  "These can have start up problems, though the new Infiniti I30,
which was at the top of its segment, shows that some manufacturers can get it
right."

    The PIM figures in not only the percent reporting defects, but also how
severe the defect was, whether or not it was repaired properly and promptly
and what its impact was on new buyer satisfaction.  It also considers owners'
expectations, which will vary considerably among segments and brands.

    Other findings of the study showed that:
    --  Toyota was the best overall corporation (six percent impacted), with
        most Toyota and Lexus models at or near the top of their classes.
        Exceptions were Avalon and Echo.
    --  Models least impacted by defects were the Acura Integra, Honda CR-V,
        Infiniti QX4 and Lexus LS 400, all at three percent.
    --  Models most impacted by defects were the Cadillac Eldorado (59 percent
        reporting defects; 29 percent impacted), Cadillac Seville (43; 29),
        Ford Focus (52; 23), GMC Yukon XL (47; 20), Cadillac Escalade
        (52; 18), and Jaguar S-Type (50; 16).
    --  While Volkswagen vehicles topped every segment they entered on
        Strategic Vision's 2000 Total Quality Index(TM) (a measure of total
        satisfaction, released last week), they were below the industry PIM
        average.  Twelve percent of its new owners were less satisfied with
        their purchase because of defects, though 38 percent reported them.
    --  New models with worse than average PIM scores were the Ford Focus
        (23 percent impacted), Lincoln LS / Jaguar S-Type (16%/17%), Saturn LS
        (18%), and Cadillac DeVille (17%).

    "Cadillac's performance is a major blow for a brand that wants to improve
its reputation in the luxury arena," said Gorrell.  "All Cadillac models
scored below their respective segment averages, and Cadillac had the worst PIM
score of any luxury brand.  Along with Buick, it had the biggest increase in
reported defects from the same period last year."

    The Problem Impact Measure(TM) is based on the responses of more than
41,000 new vehicle buyers.  They purchased new models in October and November
of 1999, and had owned them at least 90 days.

    This is the third year Strategic Vision has released its PIM scores.  It
also annually calculates its Total Quality Index(TM), measuring satisfaction
with the complete ownership experience, Dealer Total Quality Index(TM),
calculating how satisfied new owners were with their sales and service
experience, and its Total Value Index(TM) that considers all of the economic
issues.

    .



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