author: Vineeth Joel Patel
The COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing semiconductor chip shortage have changed the way automakers manufacture cars. Quite a few automakers have had to cut features out of vehicles and start and stop production based on chip availability. As one would expect, this has affected car quality. J.D. Power released its annual Initial Quality Study report and things were not good.
Problems With Cars Rose Sharply
Compared to last year, the automotive industry saw an 11 percent increase in problems per 100 vehicles (PP100). The industry average is now at 180 PP100, which is 18 PP100 higher than last year. J.D. Power claims that problems with vehicles have reached a record high in the company’s 36-year history of completing this study.
Despite the drastic increase in the number of problems in new vehicles, J.D. Power believes that this is an understandable drop because of all of the issues that automakers faced. “Given the many challenges automakers and their dealers had to face in the past year, it’s somewhat surprising that initial quality didn’t fall even more dramatically,” said David Amodeo, director of global automotive at J.D. Power. “In general, initial quality has shown steady improvement throughout the history of this study, so the decline this year is disappointing—yet understandable.”
One of the more alarming findings of the study was that battery-electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid vehicles were found to be more problematic than vehicles with an internal combustion engine. Vehicles that were powered by gasoline or diesel had an average score of 175 PP100. Plug-in hybrids (239 PP100) and all-electric vehicles (240 PP100) had much worse scores.
EV Brands Scored Poorly
The two electric brands that were included in J.D. Power’s study, Polestar and Tesla, weren’t eligible for a ranking because they do not meet the company’s award criteria. Tesla was included in the calculation for the study for the first time, but the automaker doesn’t allow J.D. Power access owner information in certain states where the permission is required by law. J.D. Power didn’t provide information on why Polestar was not ranked. Either way, if Polestar was ranked, it would’ve come dead last with 328 PP100. Tesla did better, but not compared to the industry standard with a score of 226 PP100.
Green Car Reports claims that the issue with EVs isn’t with their powertrains, but with their cutting-edge tech features. The outlet spoke with Amodeo who said that the issues lie with the tech features that are meant to help EVs stand out as futuristic vehicles.
“So they’re trying things to woo people, to make them take notice, to really make the vehicle desirable,” Amodeo told the outlet. “And because of that, some things are not working very well.”
J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study is based on a 223-question survey that was handed out to 84,165 consumers that purchased or leased a new 2022 model-year vehicle. The owners finished the questionnaire within the first 90 days of ownership. The questions are divided into nine categories that include: features; infotainment; driving assistance; controls and displays; exterior; powertrain; interior; driving experience; seats; and climate.