OT - New Quality Leader - OT

US: Ford quality eclipses Toyota - JD Power IQS 7 June 2007 | Source: just-auto.com editorial team
Ford has supplanted Toyota as the leading manufacturer in initial quality
rankings, taking the top spot in five of 19 segments in the 2007 survey by JD_Power and Associates. That was more than any other automobile corporation this year.
In the research firm's US 2007 Initial Quality Study (IQS), Ford Mustang, Mercury Milan, Lincoln MKZ, Lincoln Mark LT and Mazda MX-5 Miata swept their vehicle segments for top honours.
"The 2007 IQS results contain some encouraging and positive news for Ford Motor Company," said Neal Oddes, director of product research and analysis at J.D. Power and Associates.
"Fourteen Ford Motor Company models place in the top three of their respective segments-an achievement unmatched by any other corporation this year-which is a testament to the improvement in quality for Ford Motor Company vehicle models and plants. In addition, their Lincoln nameplate, which receives two segment awards, improves considerably to rank third in 2007, from 12th in 2006."
"We are designing and building world-class vehicles, and it's great to have this affirmation from the customers who drive our cars and trucks every day," said Mark Fields, president of the Americas, Ford Motor Company. "While we're pleased that our internal focus on quality is receiving this kind of recognition from JD Power and Associates, we will not let up. We will continue to deliver even more high-quality products that customers want."
Overall, Ford, Lincoln and Mercury nameplates placed among the top 10 nameplates, with Lincoln in 3rd place, Mercury in 8th place and Ford brand in 10th. Jaguar ranked 6th.
Ford Motor Company received 14 total vehicle honours, more than any other automaker. In addition to the five first-place winners, the following vehicles also were recognized:
The company's overall ranking in the survey climbed to 4th place from last year's 7th, helped in part by the performance of Ford's recently launched vehicles.
Crossovers Lincoln MKX and Ford Edge received high marks, as did the new Lincoln Navigator. Fusion, Milan and MKZ continue building quality momentum. Edge ranked 4th in its segment, midsize MAV, just behind Mountaineer.
Wixom Assembly Plant received a Platinum Award, recognizing it as the industry's best-quality performing plant worldwide. This marks the first time since 1999 that a North American assembly plant has received JD Power's top award for producing vehicles yielding the fewest defects.
Bennie Fowler, vice president of Global Quality, Ford Motor Company, said Wixom's performance underlines the fact that Ford's UAW-represented employees are dedicated to producing quality vehicles, even as they face change.
"This is a testament to a committed and focused workforce," Fowler said. "They raised their game even as they prepared to idle their plant."
Ford's Premier Automotive Group brands ranked as follows: Jaguar placed 6th, Volvo placed 15th, Mazda placed 34th and Land_Rover placed 35th.
JD Power & Associates 2007 IQS report measures problems per 100 vehicles as reported by customers after having driven their new vehicles for three months. The report is the most recent third party to validate Ford's significant quality improvements.
"Our vehicle quality is showing such dramatic improvement because Ford Motor Company employees are committed to delivering world-class vehicles to our customers," Fowler said. "Quality at Ford is the ultimate team sport. We're playing hard, and we'll continue playing to win."
Porsche again dominated the overall ranking of brands, averaging 91 problems per 100 vehicles as it had last year. That compared with a 2007 industry average of 125 problems per 100 vehicles. Last year it was 124.
Mercedes-Benz and Toyota models captured three segment awards each. Toyota models that received awards were the 4Runner, Sequoia and Tacoma. Mercedes-Benz models that earned awards were the E-Class, SL-Class, and the S-Class. The S-Class ties with the Audi A8 (total) for having the fewest quality problems in the industry, with just 72 problems per 100 vehicles.
"Mercedes-Benz shows dramatic improvement, particularly with its newly-redesigned S-Class, which improves 63 PP100," said Oddes. "Overall, Mercedes-Benz improves its nameplate rank by 20 positions-the greatest rank increase of any nameplate in the study. All Mercedes-Benz models in the study improved substantially, and the breadth and speed of these improvements demonstrates the Mercedes-Benz commitment to quality."
Toyota had seen its list of quality leaders decrease in a quality study released Monday by Strategic Vision Inc., a San Diego-based market research company and consultant to automakers. Despite improving its overall quality, Toyota led in one category in that study -- down from four in 2006.
Joe Ivers, JD Power's executive director of quality and customer satisfaction, said there's no clear answer for Toyota's drop. But several vehicles brought its quality performance down this year, including the Corolla, Prius and Lexus models.
It is worth noting, he said, that Toyota executives have been speaking publicly about their concerns about managing to maintain its historically high quality during a time of rapid growth.
"We're not used to seeing their vehicles go backward from a quality standpoint, and several of them did," he said. "It's no big change, but when things go backward for Toyota, it's unusual."
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I'm really confused. What do they actually check for on build quality? I was considering buying a Fusion. It ran extremely well and was well appointed but on preliminary inspection, I noticed that the front fenders and doors didn't line up on both sides and the door weather stripping was hanging out on the driver's door and you couldn't even see it on the passenger door. I didn't bother looking at it much closer for build deficiancies and tried to concentrate on the drivability aspects.
Don't get me wrong. The car drove extremely well and it's still a great little car but things like that I wouldn't have expected. To top it all off, they get a great ranking in build quality?
I'm still confused..
Tony

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From the text of the article:
JD Power & Associates 2007 IQS report measures problems per 100 vehicles as reported by customers after having driven their new vehicles for three months.
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