J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Four Canadian-Built Models Receive Initial Quality Awards in their Respective Segments

    Five Canadian Plants Rank in Top 15 in North and South America, Up from
    Four in 2007

    TORONTO, June 4 /CNW/ - Improving from three since 2007, four
Canadian-made vehicle models receive segment awards, while one additional
model ranks within the top three in its segment, according to the J.D. Power
and Associates 2008 U.S. Initial Quality Study(SM) (IQS) released today.

    These high-ranking models are:
    -   Honda Civic (Honda Canada's Alliston, Ontario, plant) ranks highest
        in the compact car segment for a second consecutive year(1)
    -   Lexus RX (Toyota Motor Corporation's Cambridge, Ontario, plant) ranks
        highest in the midsize premium multi-activity vehicle (MAV) segment
        for a second consecutive year
    -   Pontiac Grand Prix Sedan (General Motors Corporation's Oshawa (car),
        Ontario, plant) ranks highest in the large car segment
    -   Chevrolet Silverado LD (General Motors Corporation's Oshawa (truck),
        Ontario, plant) ranks highest in the large pickup segment(1)
    -   Mercury Grand Marquis (Ford Motor Company's St. Thomas, Ontario,
        plant) ranks third in the large car segment

    (1) Of the units sold in the United States of this model, a portion are
        produced in Canada.

    In addition, five Canadian plants rank among the top 15 in terms of
initial quality of the North and South American plants included in the study
-an improvement from 2007, when four Canadian plants ranked among the top 15.
The plants are: General Motors' Oshawa (car), Ontario plant; Honda Canada's
Alliston, Ontario plant; General Motors' Oshawa (truck), Ontario plant; Toyota
Motor Sales' Cambridge, Ontario, plant; and Ford Motor Company's St. Thomas,
Ontario plant.
    "As automakers across the industry continue to improve levels of initial
quality, the competition is increasingly intense for Canadian plants to build
very high-quality vehicles," said Richard Cooper, vice president of J.D. Power
and Associates' Canadian operations. "This is a critical component in the
battle to keep auto production jobs in Canada and in attracting new investment
here. It appears that Canadian plants are keeping pace with consumers'
increasingly high standards for quality."

    2008 Plant Quality Award Recipients
    The Mercedes-Benz assembly plant in Sindelfingen, Germany, receives the
Platinum Plant Quality Award for producing vehicles yielding the fewest
defects and malfunctions. Averaging just 33 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100),
the plant produces the Mercedes-Benz CL-Class, CLS-Class, E-Class Sedan,
E-Class Wagon and S-Class. Plant awards are based solely on defect and
malfunction counts.
    Among North and South American plants, the Toyota plant in Baja
California, Mexico, which produces the Toyota Tacoma, achieves the Gold Plant
Quality Award.
    In the Asia Pacific region, Toyota's Fujimatsu, Japan, plant, which
produces the Toyota Prius, receives the Gold Plant Quality Award.

    2008 U.S. Initial Quality Study Findings
    The U.S. Initial Quality Study serves as the industry benchmark for
new-vehicle quality measured at 90 days of ownership. The study is used
extensively by vehicle manufacturers worldwide to help them design and build
better vehicles and by consumers to help them in their vehicle purchase
decisions. Initial quality has been shown over the years to be an excellent
predictor of long-term durability, which can significantly impact consumer
purchase decisions. The study captures problems experienced by owners in two
distinct categories - quality of design and defects and malfunctions.
    Initial quality in the automotive industry has improved significantly in
2008, with substantial gains by nearly three-fourths of the 36 ranked
nameplates. Overall quality improves to 118 PP100 in 2008, down from 125 PP100
in 2007.
    "Due to some strong new-vehicle launches, in addition to a continued
reduction in the level of defects and malfunctions, overall quality improves
by 6 percent in 2008, compared with 2007," said David Sargent, vice president
of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. "This gain is driven by
strong advances not only from many of the high-volume brands such as
Chevrolet, Ford and Toyota, but also by very significant improvements by many
other automakers. This industry-wide improvement is a testament to the effort
that automakers are putting into listening to the voice of the customer, and
the hard work they have undertaken to integrate that feedback to design,
engineer and manufacture better-quality vehicles. From working closely with
the industry, we see the importance that is placed on initial quality. Vehicle
manufacturers and consumers alike are reaping the rewards of this effort."
    The study finds that 86 percent of the overall improvement is due to
advances in eliminating defects and malfunctions. Minimizing design problems
remains a major challenge for the industry, particularly since new technology,
such as navigation and entertainment devices, is becoming increasingly common
in today's new vehicles.
    "As consumer demand for new and more advanced wireless communication,
navigation and audio technology continues to grow, manufacturers face
challenges related to how well these systems are integrated into their
vehicles," said Sargent. "In particular, issues with difficult-to-use audio
and entertainment controls and voice command recognition failure are among the
top ten problems most frequently reported by customers. Since hands-free
communication for drivers will become a mandate in more and more areas
throughout the United States, this will need to be an area of continued focus
for automakers."
    The study also reflects that new-vehicle sales patterns in 2008 have
shifted away from the largest models and toward smaller models.
    "This shift in sales preferences among new-vehicle buyers is in part a
response to rapidly increasing fuel prices," said Sargent. "The good news for
consumers in this difficult environment is that they can downsize with
confidence, as there are many models with high initial quality in the
smaller-vehicle segments. J.D. Power and Associates forecasts that 28 new
compact-vehicle models will launch by 2010, and it will be particularly
important for manufacturers to ensure high initial quality in these launches."

    2008 U.S. IQS Ranking Highlights
    Honda models capture three segment awards - more than any other nameplate
in the 2008 study - for the Civic, CR-V and Fit. Garnering two segment awards
each are: Chevrolet (Malibu and Silverado LD); Dodge (Dakota and Durango);
Infiniti (EX-Series and M-Series); Lexus (LS and RX); and Mercedes-Benz
(CLK-Class and E-Class). The Porsche 911 has the fewest quality problems in
the industry, with just 67 problems per 100 vehicles. Also receiving segment
awards are the Ford E-Series, Lincoln Navigator, Mazda MX-5 Miata, Pontiac
Grand Prix Sedan and Toyota Sequoia.
    "In past years, automakers have frequently struggled to achieve very high
initial quality with new models," said Sargent. "With product launches and
redesigns often being problematic for manufacturers from a quality standpoint,
it is particularly impressive that the Chevrolet Malibu and Infiniti EX-Series
achieve such high levels of quality that they receive awards in their launch
    For a third consecutive year, Porsche tops the overall nameplate
rankings, averaging 87 PP100. Following in the rankings are Infiniti (which
improves from 9th rank position in 2007), Lexus, Mercedes-Benz and Toyota,
respectively. Audi posts the largest improvement in ranking, moving from 26th
place in 2007 to 10th in 2008.
    "Porsche continues its steady improvement and has succeeded in distancing
itself from the second-ranked nameplate to a greater degree in 2008 - by a gap
of 11 PP100 - compared with 3 PP100 in 2007," said Sargent.
    The 2008 Initial Quality Study is based on responses from more than
81,500 purchasers and lessees of new 2008 model-year cars and trucks surveyed
after 90 days of ownership. The study is based on a 228-question battery
designed to provide manufacturers with information to facilitate problem
determination and drive product improvement. The study was fielded between
February and April 2008.
    For more detailed findings on new-vehicle quality performance as well as
model photos and specs, please visit www.jdpower.com.

    About J.D. Power and Associates

    Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a
global marketing information services company operating in key business
sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement,
training and customer satisfaction. The company's quality and satisfaction
measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually.
J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

    About The McGraw-Hill Companies

    Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies is a leading global
information services provider meeting worldwide needs in the financial
services, education and business information markets through leading brands
such as Standard & Poor's, McGraw-Hill Education, BusinessWeek and J.D. Power
and Associates. The Corporation has more than 280 offices in 40 countries.
Sales in 2007 were $6.8 billion. Additional information is available at

    No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in
this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and
Associates. www.jdpower.com/corporate.

                   NOTE: Four charts available on request

For further information:

For further information: J.D. Power and Associates Media Relations
Contacts: Jordana Wolch, Cohn & Wolfe, Toronto, Canada, (416) 924-5700 ext.
4021, jordana.wolch@cohnwolfe.ca

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