New vehicle quality issues have hit a 36-year record high, according to a study from J.D. Power, suggesting industry woes including parts shortages, pandemic freezes, and increasing prices have had a significant, negative impact on initial vehicle quality and customer satisfaction. The chaos has shaken up J.D. Power’s quality rankings, with Buick and Genesis coming out on top of the mainstream and premium categories.
At the root of the issue is the growing number of elements that can go wrong on a new car, as J.D. Power’s David Amodeo points out: “In general, initial quality has shown steady improvement throughout the history of this study, so the decline this year is disappointing—yet understandable. Automakers continue to launch vehicles that are more and more technologically complex in an era in which there have been many shortages of critical components to support them.” J.D. Power also cited the practice of some automakers shipping vehicles with incomplete components due to shortages having a big impact on the study’s results, and the lack of effective communication between brands and customers regarding the industry issues.
The study looked at responses from 84,165 purchasers (and lessees) of 2022 model year vehicles from February to May of this year, surveyed right after owners acquired their new vehicle, hence the focus on “initial vehicle quality.” Out of nine surveyed categories, the infotainment category came out the worst, taking up six of the top 10 most-cited issues, including stuff like voice recognition, lacking USB support, and connectivity problems. Only nine out of 33 ranked brands improved in vehicle quality year over year.
Mass market brands ranked much better than premium brands, likely due the fact that many premium models come loaded with more technology and features that can go wrong or are temporarily unavailable due to chip shortages and the like. Battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) models also ranked worse, likely due to similar issues. Out of mass market brands, J.D. Power found Buick, Dodge, and Chevrolet ranked the top three for best quality, with Genesis, Lexus, and Cadillac leading premium automakers.