Toyota and Lexus topped the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Initial Quality Study, released June 7, capturing 11 out of 19 quality awards. Toyota also received four assembly plant quality awards for producing vehicles yielding the fewest defects. In the Asia Pacific region, Toyota's Higashi-Fuji, Japan plant, which produces the Lexus SC 430, received the Silver Plant Quality award while its Georgetown, Ky. plant tied for second with DaimlerChrysler's Windsor, Ontario, Canada plant in the Silver Plant Quality award for North and South American plants.
Among North and South American plants, the General Motors Oshawa #2 plant in Ontario, Canada, which produces the Buick LaCrosse and Pontiac Grand Prix, received the Gold Plant Quality award for a second consecutive year.
Magna Steyr, the Graz, Austria, plant that assembles under contract for traditional manufacturers, received the Gold Plant Quality award for Europe. Magna Steyr produces the BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz E-Class/Wagon and the Saab 9-3 Convertible. BMW's Dingolfing, Germany, plant, which produces the BMW 5, 6 and 7 Series, received the Silver Plant Quality award, and Porsche's Valmet, Finland, plant, which produces the Cayman and Boxster, received the Bronze Plant Quality award.
The Initial Quality Study serves as the industry benchmark for new-vehicle quality measured at 90 days of ownership. This year's study looked into the issues of quality of design and quality of productions.
Consumers are now looking more closely at how technology is integrated into new-vehicle design. "New vehicles today are often packed with new technologies that unfortunately can be complicated and frustrating for the average consumer when their integration is not well executed," said Joe Ivers, executive director of quality and customer satisfaction research for J.D. Power and Associates. "In the eyes of consumers, design flaws can have as much of an impact on their perceptions of quality as can a defect. Yet, many manufacturers have tended to address quality solely on the plant floor without considering design factors."