Overall dependability for three-year-old vehicles improved 4% from last year, according to J.D. Power's 2019 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study. However, the study, which measures the number of problems reported per 100 vehicles the past 12 months by their original owners, identified several "trouble spots" traced to new in-vehicle technology.
"Vehicle dependability continues to improve, but I wouldn't say that everything is rosy," said Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. "Vehicles are more reliable than ever, but automakers are wrestling with problems such as voice recognition, transmission shifts and battery failures. Flawless dependability is a determining factor in whether customers remain loyal to a brand, so manufacturers need to help customers who are currently experiencing vehicle problems and address these trouble spots on future models."
For the eighth consecutive year, Lexus ranks highest in overall vehicle dependability among all brands, with a score of 106 PP100. Porsche and Toyota tied for second with 108 and Chevrolet (115) and Buick (118) round out the top five.
Chrysler is the most-improved brand, with a reduction of 65 PP100 since 2018. Other brands with strong gains include Mini (up 34) and Subaru (up 31).
Additional finding include:
- Vehicle dependability improves, but at a slower rate: The industry average for 2019 is 136 PP100, an improvement of 6 PP100 from last year, which is a lower rate of improvement than the 14 PP100 in 2018 compared with 2017.
- Mass-market brands outperform luxury brands in dependability for first time: Model-year 2016 mass-market brands average 135 PP100 compared with 141 PP100 for luxury brands.
- German brands show notable improvement: Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen all improve this year. Along with Porsche, all Germany brands are better than the industry average, the first time this has happened in the 30 years of the study.
- Most dependable model: The Porsche 911 is the highest-ranked model in the 2019 study. This is the first year that a most dependable model has been awarded.
J.D. Power analysis shows that vehicle residual values can be significantly affected by long-term quality, said Vice President of Vehicle Analysis and Analytics Jonathan Banks.
"The used-vehicle market is where dealers can see increased profits this year," said Banks. "Stocking dealership lots with vehicles having strong dependability scores will help support new-vehicle sales in the future, create a positive brand perception, and drive foot traffic."
Editor's note: This story initially appeared on AutoDealerToday.com, a companion publication of Automotive Fleet.