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Lexus tops J.D. Power study

Reuters / November 21, 2002

DETROIT -- Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus luxury vehicle division on Thursday topped an industry study for long-term durability for the eighth straight year, while DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes division suffered the sharpest drop due to problems with its M-Class sport-utility.

Four- and five-year-old Lexus cars and sport-utilities had only 159 problems per 100 vehicles, far better than the industry average of 355 problems per vehicle, according to J.D. Power and Associate's annual Vehicle Dependability Index Study.

All five of the top brands in the survey of 30,000 owners of 1998 model-year vehicles were Japanese nameplates, with Infiniti, Acura, Honda and Toyota following Lexus respectively in the rankings, J.D. Power said. Infiniti is the luxury vehicle division of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and Acura is the brand for Honda Motor Co. Ltd.'s luxury cars and sport-utilities.

Toyota, Honda and Nissan have led the industry in long-term dependability for years, and U.S. automakers have failed to close the gap, Brian Walters, director of product research, told Reuters in an interview.

Mercedes, which placed 10th in last year's study with 296 problems per 100 vehicles, fell 23 percent to about 364 problems per 100 vehicles, below the industry average.

J.D. Power declined to provide Mercedes' exact score this year, citing a policy of not releasing data for brands that score below average.

"They struggled with the introduction of the M-Class in 1998," Walters said. "It does highlight the fact that a new vehicle introduction with a totally new model, in a new plant for that matter, do put a strain on a manufacturer's ability to maintain their quality."

The M-Class was launched in 1998 from Mercedes' brand new plant in Tuscaloosa, Ala., the first automotive plant in the southern U.S. state. The M-Class was also Mercedes' first high-volume sport-utility.

"They're not alone," Walters said. "That happens to a lot of automakers."

Since the launch, the M-Class has been plagued by quality problems, according to J.D. Powers benchmark quality study. But Walters said the quality of the M-Class has improved since the launch, and he expects Mercedes' durability to climb above the industry average again.

Volkswagen AG's Audi luxury vehicle brand also suffered a sharp drop, falling 19 percent this year from 328 problems per 100 vehicles last year to below average this year, Walters said.

Japanese automaker Suzuki showed the strongest gain, improving by 27 percent, although it also finished below average.

Also among the top 10 vehicle nameplates in industry quality were Porsche AG, Buick, Cadillac, Jaguar and BMW AG.

Buick and Cadillac were the only two GM brands to score above the industry average, versus four in last year's report. GM has in recent years improved its score in J.D. Power's Initial Quality Survey, which measures consumer complaints during the first 90 days of ownership. GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said in September he expects to match the initial quality of Toyota and Honda within two to three years.

Automakers often cite their score in the dependability survey in advertisements.

"We know that over half of new vehicle buyers indicate that long-term dependability is a major consideration when they buy a new vehicle," Walters said.

Gabriel,
2001 CL Type S
2001 Lexus RX300 Silversport
 

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Registered
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Discussion Starter #2
So we got:

1. Lexus
2. Infiniti
3. Acura
4. Honda
5. Toyota
6. Porsche AG
7. Buick
8. Cadillac
9. Jaguar
10. BMW AG.

Gabriel,
2001 CL Type S
2001 Lexus RX300 Silversport
 
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