Mercedes ranks highest in quality in South Africa

(January 27, 2011) JOHANNESBURG — New-vehicle quality in South Africa has improved considerably, with the quality gap between passenger vehicles and pickup trucks narrowing by more than 50 percent in 2010, compared with 2008, according to the J.D. Power and Associates/CAR Magazine 2010 South Africa Initial Quality Study (IQS) released last week.

Mercedes-Benz is the highest-ranking nameplate in quality and a South African Mercedes assembly plant ranks highest among the country's automotive plants.

“The improvement in new-vehicle quality is due to a combination of widespread improvement in existing models and the phasing out of old designs that had lower levels of initial quality,” said Brian Walters, vice president of J.D. Power and Associates Europe and Africa research operations.

The study is a customer-driven measure of problems experienced during the first three to seven months of ownership, and examines 228 individual problem symptoms.

Among passenger-vehicle models, initial quality averages 184 PP100 (problems per 100 vehicles) in 2010, compared with 245 PP100 in 2008. Similar gains are demonstrated among pickup truck models, with initial quality averaging 227 PP100 in 2010, compared with 333 PP100 in 2008.

While initial quality is still higher for passenger vehicles, on average, compared with pickup trucks, the gap between the two segments has narrowed from 88 PP100 in 2008 to 43 PP100 in 2010.

“Based on international measuring standards, the J. D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study is seen as the global benchmark of such studies, as it represents the voice of the customer,” said Hannes Oosthuizen, editor of CAR Magazine. “Car Magazine is delighted to cover these IQS research results with its readers.”

2010 IQS Ranking Highlights

Models that receive initial quality awards are as follows:

Lower small car segment: Honda Jazz (for a sixth consecutive time)

    • Lower compact car segment: Hyundai i10
    • Upper small car segment: Volkswagen Jetta
    • Medium car segment: Mercedes-Benz C-Class
    • Compact SUV segment: Nissan X-Trail
    • Medium SUV segment: Volvo XC60
    • Compact pickup segment: Chevrolet Corsa Utility

The Mercedes-Benz East London assembly plant that produces the Mercedes-Benz C-Class ranks highest among South Africa plants in initial quality for a third consecutive year. Vehicle assembly plants are ranked based solely on the number of defects and malfunctions in vehicles produced at the plant. Following the Mercedes-Benz East London assembly plant in the plant rankings are the Toyota Prospecton and GM Struandale plants.

With 103 PP100, Mercedes-Benz ranks highest among passenger-vehicle nameplates.  Honda (121 PP100) follows Mercedes-Benz in the rankings.  Rounding out the top five are Audi (133 PP100), BMW (138 PP100) and Mazda (142 PP100).

The study finds that the number of quality problems experienced has a direct impact on customer recommendation rates.  Among customers who experience one or no problems, 82 percent say they “definitely would” recommend their vehicle to a friend, relative or colleague.  Among customers who report two or more problems, the recommendation rate declines to 57 percent.

Since its launch in the United States in 1987, the IQS has become a quality standard used by virtually every automotive manufacturer around the world.  In addition to South Africa, J.D. Power and Associates conducts the IQS in nine other markets: China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.