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Auto Downturn Didn't Affect Vehicle Dependability

TROY (WWJ) - A new study shows that one of the worst economic downturns in recent history did not impact the quality of new cars and trucks. The survey from J.D. power says three-year-old vehicles are more dependable than ever.

"At a very, very difficult time for automakers, back in late 2008-2009, they were building far better quality vehicles than they had ever done before," said David Sargent, J.D. Power's vice president of global automotive.

Interview with David Sargent, JD Power VP

INTERVIEW: WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert speaks with J.D. Power Vice President David Sargent.

Power's Vehicle Dependability Study looks at problems that drivers of 2008 and 2009 model year vehicles have experienced over the past 12 months. It's seen as a way to judge the quality of vehicles that have been on the road an average of three years.

LINK--JD Power Press Release

The 2012 study shows an average rate of 132 problems per 100 vehicles. That's a 13 percent increase over the 2011 study. Twenty-five of 32 brands showed improvement, with domestic brands improving more than foreign brands.

Lexus, Porsche, Cadillac and Toyota were the top brands in the study. Ford was tops among the domestic carmakers, with most GM brands doing better than average. The bottom four brands, in order, were Ram, Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler.

But, that was still an improvement from where Chrysler's brands were in previous years, despite one of the most difficult period's in the company's history.

"This was at a point in time when Chrysler was about to go through bankruptcy," said Sargent. "The company had very little money to invest in new vehicles."

But, Sargent told WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert that the new vehicles debuted by Chrysler in the past year have done well in J.D. Power's initial quality rankings of new cars.

"Initial quality is a fairly good predictor of longer term dependability," he said. "So we would expect to see Chrysler move up in the dependability study also."

Domestic brands, in general, may have been held back by lingering perceptions.

"Some automakers still are not getting all of the credit that they deserve from all of their quality improvements," Sargent said. "When we ask customers about their general perception of the different brands, we find that some brands are still lagging in terms of perception, where as the reality of their products is very good.

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert

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