BLAME THE TECHNOLOGY: The WSJ reports that Ford new vehicles dropped from fifth place to 23rd of 32 automakers ranked in a J.D. Power & Associates survey of buyer complaints per 100 vehicles. Lincoln ranks in the middle on the list at No. 17, falling from No. 8 last year. The key take-away point here is that the problems are related to new technologies, not to those vehicle components that make or break reliability and comfort. Tech kinks eventually get worked out. And from what many operators tell us, chauffeured clients tend to bring and use their own gadgets in the backseat. Cadillac's ranking rose from No. 13 in 2010 to No. 9 this year, with the Escalade SUV model winning top ranking in the large premium crossover/SUV vehicle category. -- Martin Romjue, LCT editor
J.D. POWER PRESS RELEASE EXCERPT: Automakers are also accelerating the introduction of multimedia technology into their models, including hands-free and voice-activation systems. Many consumers are attracted by this type of technology, which is perceived to enhance convenience and safety, but some vehicle owners report that their system is not intuitive and/or does not always function properly.
“Clearly, consumers are interested in having new technology in their vehicles, but automakers must ensure that the technology is ready for prime time,” said David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power and Associates. “Successful companies will be those that can take this incredibly complex technology and make it reliable, seamless and easy for owners to operate while they are driving. There is an understandable desire to bring these technologies to market quickly, but automakers must be careful to walk before they run.”
While overall vehicle quality continues to improve, the introduction of new technology is expected to continue to pose challenges for automakers. Overall problem rates for audio/entertainment/navigation systems in 2011 are 18% higher than in 2010 and 28% higher than in 2009.
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