Do try to pay attention Mikey
Survey: GM, Chrysler below average in quality
DETROIT -- All of General Motors Corp.'s and the Chrysler Group's brands
scored below average in initial vehicle quality, J.D. Power and
Associates reported Wednesday.
While Ford Motor Co. had more segment-leading 2007 model-year vehicles
than Toyota Motor Corp. in the annual survey, which tracks quality
during the first 90 days of ownership, its crosstown rivals stumbled.
All but three of the 11 nameplates owned by GM and Chrysler performed
worse than they did a year ago in the closely watched quality survey.
The results could hinder sales efforts.
"Customers are desperate for outsides sources" of information on
quality, said Jim Hall, an analyst with AutoPacific Inc. in Southfield.
"It has an effect."
GM's Cadillac luxury brand fell farthest, from seventh to 25th place,
followed by the Chrysler brand, which dropped from 11th to 27th place.
GM's Buick, Saab and Hummer brands notched up in the field of 35.
"I'm not happy, I can tell you that. We didn't execute," said Jamie
Hresko, GM's vice president of quality. "We were average and we don't
want to be average."
A number of complicated product launches increased glitches in new
vehicles, he said. GM became aware of a number of problems, particularly
in the Cadillac line, through its own research and has already fixed the
mistakes, he said. GM launched 19 new models in 2006.
Despite the disappointment, GM had success in some traditionally strong
areas, namely trucks. The automaker had the highest-ranked large pickup
with the Chevrolet Silverado Classic HD, the top van with the Chevrolet
Express and the best-ranked large car in the Pontiac Grand Prix.
Chrysler's struggles similar
Chrysler introduced 10 new models in 2006 and faced some of the same
struggles as GM.
While the J.D. Power survey wasn't flattering, the Auburn Hills
automaker is encouraged that its warranty costs were down 4 percent last
year from 2005, said Chrysler spokesman Sam Locricchio.
Chrysler's Dodge Dakota pickup was third in the midsize truck category
and the Chrysler Aspen got good marks for a newly launched vehicle."To
launch that much fresh product and still have that many positives is an
accomplishment," Locricchio said.
Standards up industrywide
J.D. Power's Neal Oddes noted that product launches are becoming a "key
differentiator" of quality in the industry, namely because new products
are coming out with increasing frequency.
Oddes, director of product research and analysis, also agreed with
points raised by both GM and Chrysler -- the quality gap between brands
has narrowed vastly over the years. Significant differences remain,
however, at the model level.
As standards ratchet up industrywide, automakers must produce quality
vehicles to get consumers to even consider their vehicles. And Detroit's
automakers can't afford any bad news in the marketplace, he said.
"If you try to get by without building a quality car, you might as well
forget it," AutoPacific's Hall said.