Owners of New Compact Car Models Report More Initial Quality Problems Than Owners in Other Vehicle Segments

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Toyota Receives Four Model-Level Awards; Honda Garners Two Awards and Isuzu One Award

BANGKOK: 3 December 2012 — Overall new-vehicle quality of compact cars in Thailand is lower than that of other vehicle segments, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2012 Thailand Initial Quality StudySM (IQS) released today.

The study, which measures problems owners experience with their new vehicle during the first two to six months of ownership, examines more than 200 problem symptoms covering eight categories. These categories, listed in order of frequency of reported problems, include vehicle exterior; engine and transmission; driving experience; HVAC; audio, entertainment and navigation; vehicle interior; seats; and features, controls and displays. Overall quality performance is determined by the problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.

Overall initial quality averages 116 PP100 in 2012, compared with 113 PP100 in 2011. Initial quality in the compact car segment, which includes hatchbacks produced under the government-sponsored "eco-car" program1, averages 132 PP100, the highest number of problems reported among all vehicle segments examined in the study.

"Small hatchback models are gaining popularity in Thailand, boosted by the success of the government-sponsored eco-car program and first-time new-buyer scheme2 ," said Loic Pean, senior manager at J.D. Power Asia Pacific, Singapore. "Given the growing sales of compact cars, it is important for manufacturers to deliver the same levels of build quality offered in the other vehicle segments. It is, therefore, essential to quickly identify and fix the core quality issues reported by new owners of small hatchbacks."

The problems that owners of small hatchbacks most often report include excessive wind noise and noisy brakes,  followed by problems related to the air conditioning (fan/ blower excessive noise and AC doesn't get cold enough fast enough) and transmission system (abnormal transmission noises).

The study finds that when a salesperson explains how to operate features in the vehicle before or at the time of purchase, the number of initial quality problems reported by new-vehicle owners is lower than when such explanation is not provided. On average, owners who receive an explanation of their vehicle features experience 114 PP100, while those who do not receive an explanation experience an average of 165 PP100--a 45 percent increase in problems.

"Salespeople play an important role in managing vehicle owner expectations and reducing owner perceptions of quality issues during the buying process, particularly for first-time buyers," said Pean. "The test drive provides a good opportunity to demonstrate the key features and innovations of the vehicle, which offers buyers a deeper understanding of the vehicle design and capabilities. It also provides a key opportunity for salespeople to address buyers' queries and clarify normal and abnormal vehicle behavior."

Model Results by Segment

In the compact car segment, the Honda Brio ranks highest with 116 PP100. Suzuki Swift Eco ranks second (118 PP100), followed by Nissan March (129 PP100).

In the entry midsize car segment, the Honda Jazz ranks highest with 87 PP100. The Mazda2 Sports (95 PP100) and the Toyota Vios (98 PP100) follow in the segment rankings.

In the midsize car segment, the Toyota Prius ranks highest with 65 PP100. The Toyota Prius is followed in the segment rankings by the Honda Civic (98 PP100) and the Toyota Corolla Altis (105 PP100).

In the SUV segment, the Toyota Fortuner ranks highest with 87 PP100. The Chevrolet Captiva (121 PP100) ranks second, while the Mitsubishi Pajero Sport (140 PP100) ranks third.

In the single cab pickup segment, the Isuzu D-Max Spark ranks highest with 86 PP100. The Mitsubishi Triton S-Cab (103 PP100) ranks second in the segment, followed by the Toyota Hilux Vigo Champ S-Cab (116 PP100).

In the extended cab pickup segment, the Toyota Hilux Vigo Champ Prerunner Smart Cab ranks highest for a fourth consecutive year, with 89 PP100. Following in the segment rankings are the Mitsubishi Triton X-Cab (116 PP100) and the Nissan Frontier Navara Calibre X-Cab (117 PP100).

In the double cab pickup segment, the Toyota Hilux Vigo Champ Prerunner ranks highest with 96 PP100. The Isuzu D-Max Cab-4/ V-Cross 4 door ranks second with 101 PP100, while the Toyota Hilux Vigo Champ 
D-Cab ranks third with 119 PP100.

Additional Study Findings

Problems, particularly those experienced during the initial ownership period, lead not only to increased owner dissatisfaction, but also to lower levels of customer loyalty and advocacy. Owners who experience an initial quality problem are much less likely to repurchase or recommend the same make, compared with those who do not experience an initial quality problem. Among owners who indicate that they experienced no problems with their new vehicle, 67 percent say they "definitely would" repurchase the same make, compared with 
55 percent among those who experienced one or more problems.

The 2012 Thailand Initial Quality Study (IQS) is based on evaluations from 4,674 owners who purchased their new vehicle between October 2011 and July 2012. The study covers 13 different makes that include 77 different passenger car, pickup truck and utility vehicle models. The study was fielded between April and September 2012.

The Thailand Board of Investment in October 2009 implemented a program to offer incentives to automakers for integrated car assembly and key parts manufacturing projects. In order to qualify for the program, vehicles built must meet certain engine size, fuel-efficiency and emission requirements and production criteria.

A Thailand government program which provides tax refunds for first-time car buyers. Launched in September 2011, the program offers a maximum 100,000 Baht excise tax rebate to first-time car buyers. 

About J.D. Power Asia Pacific

J.D. Power Asia Pacific has offices in Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai and Bangkok that conduct customer satisfaction research and provide consulting services in the automotive, information technology and finance industries. Together, the five offices bring the language of customer satisfaction to consumers and businesses in China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand. Information regarding J.D. Power Asia Pacific and its products can be accessed through the Internet at www.jdpower.com. Media e-mail contact: xingti_liu@jdpower.com.sg

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, Web intelligence and customer satisfaction.  The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually.  For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies

McGraw-Hill announced on September 12, 2011, its intention to separate into two companies: McGraw-Hill Financial, a leading provider of content and analytics to global financial markets, and McGraw-Hill Education, a leading education company focused on digital learning and education services worldwide. McGraw-Hill Financial's leading brands include Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Dow Jones Indices, J.D. Power and Associates and Platts, a leader in commodities information. With sales of $6.2 billion in 2011, the Corporation has approximately 23,000 employees across more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com/.

Media Relations Contacts:

XingTi Liu; J.D. Power Asia Pacific; 08-Shenton Way, #44-02/03/04; Singapore, 068811; Phone +65-67338980; xingti_liu@jdpower.com.sg

John Tews; J.D. Power and Associates; Troy, Mich.; (248) 680-6218; media.relations@jdpa.com

Follow us on Twitter: @JDPower

No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates. www.jdpower.com/corporate

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