New Vehicle Quality Plummets in the Wake of the Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on supply chains, manufacturing, vehicle dealerships and automaker sales. The J.D. Power 2022 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS), released today, shows that those disruptions have caused vehicle quality to plummet.

Compared to the 2021 IQS results, the 2022 version say an 11 percent increase in problems per 100 (PP100) vehicles, which is 18 PP100 worse than last year. That moves the needle to an average of 180 PP100 across the industry.

One automaker stands out from the crowd, bucking the trend - General Motors (GM). The company, which houses the Buick, Cadillac, GMC and Chevrolet brands, landed in the highest rank position. Buick's quality improved for 2022 (139 PP100), making it the highest-rated brand. Dodge (143 PP100) ranks second and Chevrolet (147 PP100) ranks third.

Genesis ranked fourth overall and is the highest-rated premium brand with a score of 156 PP100. Lexus came in at 157 PP100 and Cadillac rounded out the top three premium brands with a score of 163 PP100.

GM's Chevrolet Corvette is the highest-ranking model overall with 101 PP100. The Buick Encore GX, Cadillac Escalade, Cadillac XT6, Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet Equinox, Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Silverado HD and Chevrolet Tahoe were all top of their survey segments.

2022 Buick Enclave
The 2022 Buick Enclave starts at $42,800 with 419 mile average fuel range General Motors

BMW, Hyundai Motor Group, Ford and Toyota each had models placing at the top of their respective categories including the BMW 2 Series, BMW 7 Series, BMW X1, BMW X3, Genesis G80, Hyundai Accent, Kia Forte, Lexus IS, Toyota 4Runner, Ford Ranger and Lincoln Nautilus.

Just nine of 33 brands improved vehicle quality year-over-year.

"Given the many challenges automakers and their dealers had to face in the past year, it's somewhat surprising that initial quality didn't fall even more dramatically," said David Amodeo, director of global automotive at J.D. Power.

"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."

2023 BMW X1 xDrive28i
The 2023 BMW X1 shown in a handout photo. BMW of North America, LLC.

To get the results of the survey for 2022, J.D. Power surveyed 84,165 purchasers and lessees of new 2022 model-year vehicles. The 223-question survey is organized into nine categories: infotainment; features, controls and displays; exterior; driving assistance; interior; powertrain; seats; driving experience; and climate.

Tesla models were included in the study for the first time in 2022, however the data was limited by lack of participation on a large scale. The company was rated with a score of 226 PP100.

This year's study found that deterioration in quality extends far beyond first-year vehicles. All types of new vehicles saw increases in problems this year though new-to-market models were worst at 23 PP100.

Mass market models had fewer problems than premium vehicles, 175 PP100 versus 196 PP100. J.D. Power posits that premium vehicles tend to have more technology in them, which increases the likelihood that the model will have issues.

2020 Genesis G80
The Genesis G80 is the company's midsize car. Genesis Motor North America

"Owners of premium-brand vehicles experience more problems than mass market vehicle owners, continuing a trend that started in 2016," Amodeo said. "But some brands, notably Genesis and Lexus, have largely been able to avoid that issue."

Infotainment systems are the most problematic area for owners with an average score of 45 PP100, which is 19.5 PP100 higher than the next-highest category.

Six of the top 10 problem areas in infotainment that J.D. Power discovered are Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity, built-in voice recognition, difficulties with touch screens/display screens, built-in Bluetooth systems, not enough plugs/ports, and inconsistent audio volume.

Respondents reported that battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehciles (PHEVs) are more problematic, excluding Tesla, with an average score of 240 PP100 versus 175 PP100 for models powered by an internal combustion engine.

Driving assistance technology issues grew in 2022 after falling in 2021.

Four manufacturing plants received awards from J.D. Power as part of the survey. General Motors Company's plant in San Luis-Potosi, Mexico, home of the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain received the Platinum Plant Quality Award.

Toyota Motor Corporation's Takaoka 1 (Japan) plant and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.'s Tochigi 1 (Japan) plant earned the Gold Plant Quality Award for Asia/Pacific in a tie. Those plants make the Toyota Corolla and Infiniti Q50 and Q60, respectively.

BMW AG's Regensburg (Germany) plant was awarded the Gold Plant Quality Award for Europe and Africa. The BMW X1 and X2 are manufactured there.