Quality Gap Narrows Between Domestic and Global Car Brands

J.D. Power's 2009 China Study Shows Progress by Chinese Companies in Design and Production of New Vehicles

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SHANGHAI (AdAgeChina.com) -- Domestic Chinese automakers are catching up with their global peers in product quality, according to J.D. Power's 2009 China Initial Quality Study released last week.

The study, now in its 10th year, examines problems in design and production quality experienced by new-car owners during the first two to six months. Overall performance is determined by problems experienced per 100 vehicles.

This year's China study reports an average of 178 problems per 100 vehicles in 2009, down by 14% from 207 problems in 2008.

J.D. Power attributes the improvement to the progress made by domestic Chinese brands in vehicle design and production. In 2009, an average of 258 problems per 100 vehicles were reported for local Chinese brands, down from 318 a year earlier.

"Some domestic brands demonstrate particular strengths in certain vehicle segments in the China market such as the compact and mini van categories. Here they strike a good balance between price and quality," said Mei Songlin, general manager of research services at J.D. Power Asia Pacific in a statement.

VW's Sagitar is the leading brand in the lower premium midsize segment
VW's Sagitar is the leading brand in the lower premium midsize segment
The best-performing models include the Chery QQ3 (compact); Chery QQ6 (premium compact); Toyota Yaris (entry midsize); Toyota Corolla EX (midsize); Volkswagen Sagitar (lower premium midsize); Toyota Reiz (upper premium midsize); Audi A6L (luxury); Honda CR-V (SUV); Buick GL8 (MPV); and Hafei Minyi (minivan).

There's still room for improvement. Heavy fuel consumption is the most frequently-reported problem for 2009. Other complaints include trouble getting cars with manual transmission in gear, wind noise, noisy brakes, engine problems, and faulty fans.

The 2009 China Initial Quality Study covers 127 vehicle models from 48 different brands. The study was fielded from April to August 2009 in 28 major cities across China.

This article was first published in Automotive News China, which is also a publication of Crain Communications.

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