Chrysler Group Is Most Improved Automaker
Backed by five segment winners, the Volkswagen Group (including Audi) led all other automakers in the recent 2012 Strategic Vision Total Quality Awards. The Chrysler Group and Ford Motor Company tied for second place in the Total Quality rankings, with each company fielding three winners; the Chrysler Group also showed the most improvement as compared to its performance in last year's study. The Total Quality Awards, now in their 17th year, look at owner-reported problems with new vehicles, but with a twist: Strategic Vision doesn’t just count up the number of issues recognized by owners, but also attempts to qualify them based on how serious they are and how they affect the overall ownership experience.
“We point out Total Quality vs. ‘fewest problems’ for a reason,” said Alexander Edwards, president of Strategic Vision. “When measuring quality, the complete experience must be part of the calculation and include all the perceptions that influence how people make their decision. For instance, even when ‘just' counting problems, perception is involved. One buyer may overlook what another may report. With Total Quality, we factor in all the perceptions that are proven to create the impression of Total Quality; this is ultimately how people think about vehicles and spend money.”
Interestingly, just one of the mainstream Total Quality Award winners was actually a mainstream choice: The Dodge Charger in the Large Car category. The Charger continues to do well in recent third-party quality studies—capturing a class victory in the Autobytel/AutoPacific Ideal vehicle awards, for instance—and it’s one of the segment’s sales leaders. But the other four choices stand out for low sales volumes in addition to high quality.
Keeping in mind that each member of the July top 20 sold between 13,000 and 50,000 units, the rest of the mainstream car victors in the 2012 Total Quality Awards were:
And note: Even as it battles the fleet-friendly Chevy Impala for the segment’s sales lead, the Charger’s July sales total was still a relatively modest 6,440 units.
Outside of the Chevrolet Corvette, the premium players in the 2012 Total Quality Awards all came from just two automakers, both German. (And technically, the Corvette finished in a tie in the Premium Coupe category with an entry from the German pair, so you could say VW and BMW swept the up-level car classes.)
The Chevy's co-winner was the BMW 1 Series Coupe, and the Bavarians also scored with the BMW Z4 Roadster in the Premium Convertible/Roadster segment; the MINI Cooper Coupe, built by a BMW-owned brand, was the Total Quality Award leaders in the Specialty Coupe category. But the Volkswagen Group did just as well, as the VW Eos claimed the prize in the Convertible segment, while the automaker's Audi brand pitched in with the Audi A4 as the best-ranked Near-Luxury Car and the Audi A8 posting the highest score in the entire study, and winning the Total Quality Award in the Luxury Car class.
Strategic Vision only saw fit to select two Total Quality Award recipients from the lux trucks, so we'll include the Land Rover Evoque (Near-Luxury Utility) and BMW X6 (Luxury Utility) with their more plebian rivals. Which included the perhaps not-so-plebian VW Tiguan (Entry Utility) as well as: