New vehicle quality decreased in J.D. Power’s annual Initial Quality Study under industry-wide shifts to new features and emerging technologies.
J.D. Power researchers calculated vehicle quality trends by counting problems per 100 units based on survey responses from 93,380 new-car owners. The study, published Thursday, June 22, found that the number of issues grew by 12 points in 2023, following the previous year’s increase of 18 points. The combined 30-point jump is the highest seen in the study’s history. Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at J.D. Power, said the industry was “at a major crossroad…” and urged automakers to choose their paths carefully.
"From persistent problems carrying over from years past to an increase in new types of problems, today's new vehicles are more complex--offering new and exciting technology--but not always satisfying owners." — Frank Hanley, J.D. Power senior director of auto benchmarking
New technologies such as electric vehicles or high-tech redesigns of classic components like door handles were behind many of the consumer complaints within the study. Problems with operating systems, driver-assistance software and wireless phone chargers also contributed to this year’s lower vehicle quality scores.
Of the 35 car brands referenced in J.D. Power’s study, Dodge, Ram and Alfa Romeo products presented the fewest issues overall. By model, the 2023 Nissan Maxima received the highest customer ratings. Tesla and Polestar ranked the lowest for vehicle quality.
The J.D. Power study highlights the automotive industry’s occasionally self-destructive relationship with innovation. This affinity is nothing new, although its consequences have seemingly become more severe under the rush to build new electric vehicles and attract premium buyers. While early adopters, those who tend to buy the latest, most advanced products, may be more inclined to dismiss frustrating defects or flaws as inherent risks in their pursuit of cutting-edge technology, as cars inevitably become more advanced, the manufacturers that iron out vehicle quality issues early will likely garner more favor with the majority of consumers.