The J.D. Power 2004 Initial Quality Study released on April 28 showed that widespread initial quality improvements have taken hold in the automotive industry, with initial quality problems dropping 11 percent from 2003. The industry average stands at 119 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) — the fewest problems since the study was redesigned in 1998. Among the 169 models included in both the 2003 and 2004 IQS, 129 (76 percent) have registered an improvement, while 35 (21 percent) have declined and five (3 percent) remain unchanged.Thirty out of 37 nameplates have improved initial quality scores from 2003. Hyundai, which jumps an impressive 16 rank positions from 2003, makes the most significant advancement, improving 29 percent year-over-year to rank seventh. Between 1998 and 2004, Hyundai has improved by 62 percent — more than any other nameplate and nearly twice the industry average of 32 percent.Other nameplates reporting significant initial quality improvement in 2004 include: Honda (23 percent), HUMMER (23 percent), Land Rover (22 percent), Jaguar (20 percent) and Mercedes-Benz (20 percent).IQS measures a range of quality problems, heavily weighted toward defects and malfunctions, quality of workmanship, drivability, human factors in engineering (i.e. ease of use) and safety-related problems. Among these categories, the area that accounts for the greatest product improvement since 1998 are defects and malfunctions, down from 61 PP100 to 40 PP100. Further, those that are related to safety show a 44 percent improvement — from 25 PP100 down to only 14.The 2004 Initial Quality Study is based on responses from more than 51,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2004 model-year cars and trucks, who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership. This industry benchmark study for new- vehicle initial quality is now in its 18th year.