The quality of new cars will decline in 2022, according to market research and automotive industry research firm JD Power. The average number of defects reported by new car buyers in North America increased by 11% from the previous year. New car buyers and renters of all brands combined recorded 180 complaints per 100 vehicles in the first 90 days after delivery. In 2020, buyers reported 162.
According to JD Power, this increase in complaints is due to problems with supply chains and temporary closures of car assembly plants and their components caused by the pandemic.
The first 90-day defect study focuses on problems that show up quickly, not long-term reliability. There are other sources for this, such as Consumer Reports, the annual Autos Guide PV on used vehicles, and the survey JD Power conducts on vehicles after the third year of operation. This year’s survey is based on responses from 84,165 new car buyers and renters who were surveyed 90 days after receipt.
Prestige versus mainstream
Prestige brands experience more problems, with 196 complaints per 100 vehicles compared to 175 complaints for major brands. According to JD Power, the presence of sophisticated technology in luxury vehicles increases the likelihood of problems. Exceptions? Genesis and Lexus, two above-average brands, have 156 and 157 problems per 100 vehicles, respectively, followed by Cadillac (163 problems per 100 vehicles).
Among major brands, Buick ranks first with 139 problems per 100 vehicles, followed by Dodge (143 problems per 100 vehicles) and Chevrolet with 147 problems per 100 vehicles. General Motors performed well overall, which is impressive given the large number of models and brands under the banner.
Tesla and Polestar perform poorly
Tesla is among the brands experiencing the most problems, with 226 cases per 100 vehicles. But it’s Polestar, the new electric vehicle brand introduced by Volvo, that has the worst record, recording 328 faults per 100 vehicles. At the end of the list are also Volkswagen, Audi and Mitsubishi. In Volkswagen, the introduction of the ID.4, which is currently experiencing many problems, must have contributed to this disappointing result.
Despite its good reputation, Honda achieves an average result. The Automotive Protection Association (APA) has found in recent years that Honda’s infotainment systems are the cause of much of the problems with its models.
Electric vehicles have more disadvantages
A JD Power survey shows that electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrids experience more problems than the average gasoline-powered vehicle, with 239 failures per 100 vehicles compared to 175 for thermal vehicles.
This is contrary to the claims of some electric vehicle enthusiasts who advocate the simplicity of its mechanics, but not surprising given the challenges of adopting the new technology. Note that by eliminating non-plug-in hybrids, JD Power has eliminated the majority of Toyota and Lexus hybrids, which are the most reliable hybrid vehicles according to a PV poll released last spring.
Upgraded cars have more problems
A new or redesigned model faces big challenges within a year of launch. This is an observation made by APA and PV over the years. According to JD Power, a new or redesigned vehicle will have an average of 25 more problems out of 100 vehicles than a refurbished model.
Keep an eye on infotainment systems
The infotainment category accounts for 45 complaints out of 100 new cars; that is where most of the problems come from. Weak points include Android Auto/Apple CarPlay connectivity, voice recognition, touchscreen response, Bluetooth connectivity, and sound quality.
Driver assistance systems
Problems with advanced driver assistance systems have increased to 4 complaints per 100 vehicles. The importance of this category of complaints may increase in the coming years, given the increasing availability of these systems and their increasing complexity.
Assembly plants stand out
The General Motors plant in Mexico, where the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain are assembled, received a Platinum Quality Award. Two factories in Ontario also stood out. The CR-V plant in Alliston received a silver medal, while the GM plant in Ingersoll, where the Equinox is assembled, received a bronze medal. Assembly plant pricing is based on assembly defects only and excludes vehicle design issues.
JD Power 2022 Initial US Quality Survey.