The San Diego-based Strategic Vision auto consultancy announced that Korea’s Hyundai Motors and Japan’s Nissan Motor Corp. topped the firm’s latest Total Quality Index (TQI). Both automakers grabbed top honors in three of the 19 vehicle segments.
Hyundai had a total of five leaders (including H150 đông lạnh sibling Kia, which yielded two), the Ford Motor Co. and the BMW Group each earned three (one for BMW, two for Mini); and General Motors Corp., the Honda Motors Co., and Mercedes each earned two, with Dodge, Lexus and Volkswagen each earning one. BMW repeated as the top-scoring brand, the eighth time in nine years, and Volkswagen of America kept its claim as the best full-line corporation.
The annual Index, now on its 12th year, is based on surveys taken from 27,000 respondents who purchased 2007 model year vehicles last fall. The Consultancy ranks brands based on surveyed consumers’ experience in buying, owning and driving their new cars and trucks. Alexander Edwards, Strategic Vision’s president, said that while the index takes technical or mechanical problems into account, the company uses qualitative questions on design, style, fit and finish to generate its index.
“It’s about ‘what does the vehicle make me feel? Can I trust it?'” said Edwards. “The feel of seat material, level of illumination in gauges, right type of interior trim can translate – in consumers’ minds – to how well [an automaker] has designed the engine; it means ‘they have taken time on things I can’t see.’ That is an emotional level of quality, and it is very important,” he added.
The index reported that, although Toyota improved overall and was among the best brands in terms of problems per vehicle, the brand had no leaders in any of the segments. In terms of problems-per-vehicle, Toyota is on par with Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti and domestic brands such as Ford. Strategic Vision says that the Ford Expedition EL has a large lead and the fewest problems in its segment.
The Hyundai Entourage, Kia Sedona and the Nissan Quest have all replaced five-time leader Honda Odyssey. In addition, Hyundai and Nissan lead with the Azera and the Maxima, respectively. The Azera was the top large car, and the Maxima tied with Saturn’s Aura in the medium-car category. Styling, performance and auto parts have greatly contributed to the automaker’s appeal. Enhanced Hyundai engine and an improved Nissan ignition coil could have added to their product lines’ charisma.
“Over the past five years, Hyundai has had a vehicle leading its segment now and then, but never before have they taken three – five if you include Kia – especially in a market where the competition is so fierce,” added Edwards. “It shows they have the product question solved.” The company recently signed a new ad agency: Omnicom’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners.
Edwards noted the surveys showed Nissan has corrected a disparity in its vehicles between great exteriors and less-great interiors. “They are benefiting from improvements they’ve made on interior design, fit and finish. Nissan got that right this year.”