Vehicle build quality is declining, especially among electric car makers

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The Covid-19 pandemic has deeply affected the automotive industry, in particular manufacturing quality, reveals an American study. Electric car manufacturers Polestar and Tesla are particularly affected.

Manufacturing of a Chevrolet Bolt at GM’s Orion plant near Detroit.

© Erick Fontaine / Digital

According to the JD Power study 2022 US Initial Quality Study, published on June 28, 2022, the disruptions caused by the pandemic (problems in the supply chain, rising raw material prices, record prices, etc.) have contributed to a historic increase in vehicle problems. The survey is based on data provided by a total of 84,165 personal-use vehicle owners and lessees registered between November 2021 and February 2022. Survey responses provided data for 33 different makes and 189 different models. Compared to 2021 results, the automotive industry saw an 11% increase in problems.

jd power manufacturing quality study

An understandable drop in quality, but not for everyone

General Motors bucks the trend, with an improvement in factory-gate quality that puts it at the forefront of automotive companies. Among manufacturers, Buick’s quality improves 17 points year-over-year, moving it from 12th place in 2021 to first place in 2022. Genesis ranks first among brands top of the line. Only nine of the 33 brands ranked have improved the quality of their vehicles year on year.

GM ORION FACTORY DETROIT

Orion, based in Orion Township, Michigan, is one of GM’s manufacturing plants capable of producing electric and thermal vehicles on the same line.

© Erick Fontaine / Digital

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Given the many challenges automakers and their dealerships faced last year, build quality could have dropped even more dramatically.said David Amodeo, automotive director at JD Power. In general, quality has steadily improved throughout the history of this study, so this year’s decline is disappointing, but understandable. Automakers continue to release increasingly technologically complex vehicles at a time when there have been many shortages of critical components to support them.

Especially high-end vehicles

The number of problems is increasing this year for both new and existing models, but it is the former that are experiencing the greatest deterioration. So-called mainstream vehicles have fewer shortcomings than high-end vehicles. Mainstream brands have an average of 175 DPI (problems per 100 vehicles), which is 21 less than premium brands (196). Buyers of premium brand vehicles generally buy more technology into their vehicles, and the increased complexity of these vehicles increases the likelihood of problems.

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LEXUS NX300H PREMIUM HYBRID

At Lexus, the problems of strong degradation, we do not know. Here the NX300h.

© Erick Fontaine / Digital

Given the difficulty of launching new vehicles in today’s environment, those with high circulation are the most likely to achieve high build quality. “Owners of premium brand vehicles are experiencing more problems than mass vehicle owners, continuing a trend that began in 2016“, said Amodeo.”But some brands, including Genesis and Lexus, have been largely successful in avoiding this problem..”

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Infotainment singled out

Infotainment systems remain the most problematic area, averaging 45 DPI alone.

GM ORION FACTORY OPEL AMPERA E INFOTAINMENT

Infotainment system from the late Opel Ampera-e

© Erick Fontaine / Digital

Six of the top ten issues in the study are related to infotainment, including Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity, on-board voice recognition, touchscreens/displays, on-board Bluetooth systems, ports USB and audio volume.

The most problematic hybrids

Owners of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles cite more problems with their vehicles than those of internal combustion engine vehicles. The average for internal combustion engine vehicles is 175 DPI, for PHEVs 239 and for EVs — excluding Tesla models — 240 points. Tesla models, which have an average of 226 problems per 100 vehicles, are shown separately from the EV average, which is because the dominance of Tesla vehicles may mask the performance of traditional automakers who have recently introduced electric vehicles. However, because Tesla Motors does not allow JD Power to access owner information in states where such permission is required by law, Tesla vehicles cannot be fully considered.

As for Polestar, the manufacturer is at the bottom of the table with 328 problems per 100 vehicles.

POLESTAR 1 GEELY GENEVA 2018

The Polestar 1 presented for the first time at the Geneva Motor Show in 2018.

© Erick Fontaine / Digital

Among the build quality winners, General Motors’ Buick received Best Overall Brand; the automaker also won the most awards, from the Chevy Malibu to the Cadillac Escalade. BMW and Hyundai take second and third place respectively.

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