General Motors Oshawa plant receives J.D. Power award

In the Olympics of qualty, General Motors’ assembly plant in Oshawa has won a gold medal for a second consecutive year.

The Ontario plant received the Gold Plant Quality Award for producing vehicles with the fewest number of defects in a study of car and truck assembly plants in North and South America. The J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Initial Quality Study gave DaimlerChrysler’s Windsor facility and Toyota’s Georgetown, Ky., plant a tie for the Silver Plant Award.

“Canadian plants have again demonstrated that they are competitive, not only in terms of productivity, but also in terms of quality”, said Richard Cooper, executive director of J.D. Power and Associates’ Canadian operations.  “This will be an important issue, as Canada (and particularly Ontario) seeks to continue its recent successes in winning investment dollars in the highly competitive North American production environment”.

GM’s Oshawa #2 plant, which produces the Buick Allure/LaCrosse and Pontiac Grand Prix, averages just 43 problems per 100 vehicles.

DaimlerChrysler’s Windsor plant receives a score of 47. The plant produces the Pacifica, Town & Country, Caravan and Grand Caravan models.

Several Canadian-produced models rank within the top three of their respective segments in the study. They are:

<li>Toyota Corolla (Toyota’s Cambridge, Ont., plant) ranks highest in the compact car segment
<li>Honda Civic (Honda’s Alliston, Ont., plant) ranks third in the compact car segment
<li>Chevrolet Monte Carlo (GM’s Oshawa #1, Ont.) ranks third among midsize sporty cars
<li>Pontiac Grand Prix (GM’s Oshawa #2) ranks highest in the large car segment
<li>Honda Ridgeline (Honda’s Alliston, plant) ranks second in the midsize pickup segment
<li>Lexus RX 330/RX 400h (Toyota’s Cambridge, plant) ranks third among midsize premium multi-activity vehicles (MAV)

In other recognitions, Magna Steyr, owned by Toronto-based Magna International Inc., receives the Gold Plant Quality Award in Europe for its Graz, Austria facility. The plant, which assembles under contract for major manufacturers, 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, receives a silver award, and Porsche’s Valmet, Finland, plant, which produces the Cayman and Boxster, receives the Bronze Plant Quality Award.
In the Asia Pacific region, Toyota’s Higashi-Fuji, Japan, plant, which produces the Lexus SC 430, receives the Silver Plant Quality Award. Toyota’s Kyushu, Japan, plant, which produces the Lexus IS 250/IS 350, Lexus RX 330/400h and Toyota Highlander/Highlander Hybrid, and American Honda’s Saitama, Japan, plant, which produces the Acura RL, Acura TSX and Honda CR-V, tie for the Bronze Plant Quality Award.

The Initial Quality Study, now in its 20th year, finds that the way in which technology is integrated into new-vehicle design, particularly interior features and controls, is considered by consumers to be as important to quality as are defects and malfunctions.

The study, which serves as the industry benchmark for new-vehicle quality measured at 90 days of ownership, has been completely redesigned for 2006 to capture problems experienced by owners in two distinct categories design quality and and production quality which looks at defects and malfunctions.

“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”.

Based on both design quality and production quality considerations, the study finds that automakers can vary widely in their performance on these two components. Brands with the fewest defects and malfunctions include Lexus, Porsche, Toyota, BMW, Hyundai and Chrysler. Brands with the fewest design problems include Porsche, Hyundai, GMC, Jaguar, Lexus and Nissan.

Lexus and Toyota models continue to dominate initial quality rankings, capturing 11 out of 19 segment awards in 2006. Lexus models rank highest in every segment in which they compete.  In addition, the LS 430 ties the Porsche Cayman for having the fewest quality problems. Toyota remains a quality benchmark, capturing five model-level awards for the Corolla, Solara, Camry, Highlander and Sequoia, more than any other non-luxury brand.

Porsche and Lexus lead the luxury brands, while Hyundai, Toyota and Honda set the pace among non-luxury brands.
Hyundai ranks among the top three nameplates in the study for the first time in the history of IQS. Highlights include a top ranking for the Hyundai Tucson in the compact multi-activity vehicle segment, and top-three segment performances for the redesigned Sonata and all-new Azera, as well as the Elantra and Tiburon.

Honda also maintains its position as a quality leader. Although Honda does not receive any awards outright, five Honda models rank among the top three of their respective segments.

Other nameplates receiving model awards in 2006 include Chevrolet, Chrysler, Ford, Kia, Mazda, Pontiac and Suzuki.

The 2006 study is based on responses from 63,607 purchasers and lessees of new 2006 model-year cars and trucks surveyed after 90 days of ownership.