A Toyota assembly plant in Cambridge, Ontario, has achieved the recognition of being the top car manufacturer in the world when it comes to quality – according to an annual report released by J.D. Power this Wednesday.
The report states that the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. plant, which produces the Lexus RX sports utility vehicle, only has 12 defects for every 100 vehicles – the smallest number in the world.
The second place in North America and fifth globally belongs to a Canadian manufacturer as well – the General Motors of Canada Ltd. plant in Ingersoll, Ontario, which is responsible for building the GMC Terrain and Chevrolet Equinox vehicles. In contrast, to the Cambridge plant, this one has 20 issues per 100 vehicles.
The other two spots for top quality in the world belong to three plants in Japan. Two of them are Lexus plants, which have tied for the second place with 18 issues per 100, while the other one belongs to Nissan, which sits in the third spot with 19 issues for every 100 vehicles.
The overall perception projected by J.D. Power is that the quality of vehicles is in decline due to the “arms race” that forces manufacturers to stick in as many features as possible into each vehicle. The goal for the manufacturers is to stay as competitive as possible, but as J.D. Power points out – this sort of practice harms the industry in the long run because it leads to customer complaints and recalls.
“Anytime you make a significant change to a vehicle, you have the opportunity to introduce more problems,” David Sargent, vice president of vehicle research at J.D. Power, stated at a meeting of the Automotive Press Association in Detroit this Wednesday.
This report has also arrived just on time – amidst a slew of vehicle recalls by General Motors and related congressional hearings in the U.S. regarding the company’s prolonged reaction to faulty ignition switches that have allegedly caused 13 deaths.
Sargent says that quality issues have increased from 113 per 100 vehicles from the 2013 model year to 116 for every 100 vehicles in 2014. He has also noted that recalls are actually not a good metric for vehicle quality, stating that customer complaints regarding malfunctioning features like voice recognition or heated seats are a much better indicator of how well a vehicle performs. In other words, there’s more to quality than life-threatening malfunctions.
One of the worst recalls ever actually happened in 1996 and involved Ford. The manufacturer had to pull back 8.6 million 1988-93 Tempos, Thunderbirds, Cougars, Escorts, Mustangs, Lincoln Town Cars, Bronocos, F-series and Crown Victorias due to an ignition problem that caused the cars to burst into flames.
Luckily, GM doesn’t have the same problem on its hands, but poor quality control can definitely have deadly repercussions.