Auto manufacturing quality shows biggest jump in 10 years

Despite rising vehicle costs and gas prices, consumers are giving the auto industry its highest perceived quality rating in a decade, according to the Quarterly Quality Report, released Wednesday by the American Society for Quality. “The increases in this quarter’s American Customer Satisfaction Index results indicate a stronger focus on improving customer service by both the auto ...
By Staff September 1, 2006

Despite rising vehicle costs and gas prices, consumers are giving the auto industry its highest perceived quality rating in a decade, according to the Quarterly Quality Report, released Wednesday by the American Society for Quality.

“The increases in this quarter’s American Customer Satisfaction Index results indicate a stronger focus on improving customer service by both the auto and personal computer sectors,” said Jack West, spokesperson for the ASQ and the author of the Quarterly Quality Report. “In the auto industry, Japanese manufacturers like Toyota and Honda continue to exploit their competitive distinction in engineering and innovation, while the bigger surprise is that U.S. brands like General Motors and Ford’s quality improvement processes are beginning to close the gap with their import competitors.”

This quarter, the auto industry’s perceived quality score stands at 87, bringing it back to its highest level since the second quarter of 1995. U.S. brands are making progress in closing the quality gap. However, only domestic luxury brands Buick and Cadillac rank with the reigning quality leaders including Toyota, Honda and BMW. Hyundai wins for the best turnaround story with long-term gains of 12.7% over the last decade.

“Hyundai has been steadfast in applying a simple but effective two-pronged quality process,” said West. “In addition to its intense focus on consumer input, Hyundai emphasizes process improvement to refine problem areas such as its electrical systems and automatic transmission design.”

The personal computer category also experienced significant gains in perceived quality, primarily due to improved service levels. The quality index for the maturing personal computer category made a significant jump of 3.8%, primarily due to gains by Dell. While it has surpassed its rival Hewlett-Packard in terms of quality, Dell still trails the quality leader in personal computers %%MDASSML%% Apple %%MDASSML%% by a significant amount.

It appears likely that Dell’s rebound is based largely on restoration of their service levels,” said West. “Dell’s $100 million commitment to beef up its U.S. service centers is clearly having a positive effect.”