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Quality Takes Back Seat to Innovation, Says J.D. Power Automotive Report

The automotive industry is facing an unprecedented range of customer complaints related to quality, and technology is often the culprit.

Posted by Staff

June 27, 2023

2 Min Read
confused driver
Bulat Silvia/iStock via Getty Images

New vehicles are becoming more problematic, as evidenced by the number of problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) rising a record 30 PP100 during the past two years, according to the J.D. Power 2023 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS). The continuing decline in quality can be attributed to multiple factors, such as greater usage and penetration of technology; continued integration of known problematic audio systems into other new models; poor sounding horns; cupholders that don’t serve their purpose; and new models with 11 PP100 more than carryover models.

“The automotive industry is facing a wide range of quality problems, a phenomenon not seen in the 37-year history of the IQS,” said Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at J.D. Power. "The industry is at a major crossroad and the path each manufacturer chooses is paramount for its future. From persistent problems carrying over from years past to an increase in new types of problems, today’s new vehicles are more complex — offering new and exciting technology — but not always satisfying owners.”

Here are some of the key findings of the 2023 study.

Door handles are increasingly problematic

Opening a door was once a non-issue — an aspect of a vehicle that had been examined, engineered, and mastered. The basic touch point of door handles is now a percolating problem area as manufacturers attempt to redesign them. Owners are having issues with high-tech approaches to this basic function — seven of the 10 most problematic models in this area are battery electric vehicles (BEVs).

Risky safety systems

More than three-quarters (80%) of owners say their new vehicle includes all four of the primary driver-assistance features — forward collision warning; lane keeping assistance; lane departure warning; and blind spot warning. However, problems encountered by owners in the driver-assistance category have increased. The most problematic are lane departure warning/lane keeping assistance and forward collision warning/automatic emergency braking in vehicles that have these features.

Smartphone charging

Across all 223 problems measured in the study, wireless charging pads not working properly has increased by a sizable margin and is driven by both increased penetration and more usability issues with the technology. User complaints include poor pad location; phones overheating; and intermittent charging, if at all. “This is the area where manufacturers really have the opportunity to delight customers with a convenience, but instead are creating a problem for them,” Hanley said.

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