Survey: Korean Automakers Make Quality Strides

By Agence France-Presse For the first time on record, Korean-branded cars and trucks beat out U.S. and European brands in an influential survey of vehicle quality, an auto analysis firm said April 28. Hyundai and Kia-brand vehicles had 117 defects per 100 vehicles, five fewer than the European defect rate and six fewer than the U.S. rate, according to J.D. Power and Associates' closely-watched Initial Quality Survey. The Koreans still trailed the Japanese -- the industry benchmark in matters of quality -- but their ranking marked a dramatic turnaround from years past. "A decade ago, as Korean manufacturers struggled with a universally poor reputation for vehicle quality, no one would have predicted they could not only keep pace but actually pass domestics and other imports in terms of initial quality," said author Joe Ivers, a J.D. Power and Associates partner. The gains registered by Kia and Hyundai tracked with those of the industry as a whole. Initial quality problems were down 11% from 2003 to 119 per 100, for the lowest industry defect average in six years. Among the 169 models included in both the 2003 and 2004 IQS, 129 (76%) registered an improvement, while 35 (21%) saw their quality decline and five (3%) remain unchanged. The rankings are based on feedback from consumers. J.D. Power questioned 51,000 motorists of new 2004 model year cars and trucks for the study, which evaluated the vehicles on their first 90 days performance after coming off a dealer's lot. Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2004

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