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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Jul 10, 2004

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


Volkswagen Tops The Full-Line Total Quality Index Corporate List

Old Mobil Gas Sign

Just one month after the Westlake Village, California-based JD Power and Associates firm released the findings of its 2004 Initial Quality Study (QSI), the San Diego-based Strategic Vision research firm releases its 2004 Total Quality Indexâ„¢ (TQI).

Ordinarily, this doesn't warrant any attention. However, the Strategic Vision findings turn the JD Power results on its head. Whereas the Power study ranked German-based automotive corporations below average in the QSI report (in Porsche's case, last place), the Strategic Vision study ranks the German corporations at or near the top of its TQI report.

How can that be? According to the folks at Strategic Vision, their Total Quality Index is not merely a static report on the number of things that go wrong in the first 90 days of ownership. The company believes its TQI is a more accurate measure of owner satisfaction, in that it also assesses new buyers' responses to the complete ownership experience - including buying, owning and driving their new vehicles. The calculations also include the emotional response to that experience. With these variables factored in, Volkswagen-Audi tops all manufacturers with their combined score, while Mercedes topped all brands, tied with Infiniti.

Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. (combining the Lexus and Toyota brands) tops JD Power's QSI ratings among automotive corporations. In the Strategic Vision TQI study, however, it ranks below average - in 20th place. According to Strategic Vision Vice-President Daniel Gorrell, the ubiquity of the Camry and perceived dullness of many Toyotas drags down the brand's score. Following Volkswagen as the top-scoring full-line corporation is Nissan, Honda and General Motors, which ranked above Toyota. "General Motors is the really big story for 2004" continues Gorrell. "Just to turn, let alone turn around such giant is a major victory." Data came from more than 39,290 buyers who bought 2004 models in October and November of 2003. "Their responses go into complex calculations that mirror the way people really respond to the vehicle ownership experience" says Dr. Darrel Edwards, Strategic Vision president and founder. "Accurate measures of customers' reactions have to include the emotions generated by the experience." "Completely understanding new car buyers, especially their emotions that drive decisions, will be increasingly important" says Edwards. "Too much capacity and fewer defects are making the playing field increasingly crowded with less to differentiate the players. Those who can deliver the most positive emotional experience and go beyond that to delight their customers are going to be the winners." So, what does this all mean for the consumer? It means that there is more to car ownership than frequency-of-repair. Craftsmanship, performance, and other factors can have a strong bearing on owner satisfaction - and can make up for an extra trip or two to the dealer service center. In reality, all cars are vastly more reliable than their counterparts of 20 years ago. This makes a simple study of frequency-of-repair a lot less meaningful in this day and age.

Ultimately, you've got to ask yourself: Is it better to be stuck with a dull but reliable car for 365 days a year, or to own a car you look forward to driving 365 days a year that might be stuck in the shop for a day or two?

- Roy Nakano

This article appeared originally as an LA CAR Blog entry. To view the current Blog, go to the home page and scroll down to the LA CAR Blog.

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