American Car Quality Beats Imports

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After several years of concerns that domestic automakers have been producing sub-par cars, there’s a renewed confidence in U.S. automakers, according to the latest quality survey from J.D. Power and Associates.

“Domestic automakers have made impressive strides in steadily improving upon initial quality, particularly since 2007,” said David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. “This may mark a key turning point for U.S. brands as they try to win the battle against negative perceptions of their quality.”

The key to maintaining a reputation for quality is the continued production of vehicles that are better-made than imports, Sargent suggests, adding that U.S. automakers need to focus on convincing younger drivers that American cars are just as good or better than imports.

The new J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study surveyed tens of thousands of new vehicle owners during their first 90 days of ownership. The study looks at overall mechanical quality including defects and design quality, J.D. Power explains.

The research firm says initial quality is an excellent predictor of long-term durability, and the company has been conducting these studies since 1987.

Among compact cars, the 2010 Ford (Stock Quote: F) Focus ranked the highest in initial quality, up considerably from its 11th-place finish in 2009. Among large cars, the Ford Taurus reached the top spot in 2010 compared to its 8th-place ranking in 2009. The Chevy (Stock Quote: GM) Avalanche and the GMC Sierra 1500 tied for the top spot among large pickup trucks for the 2010 model year.

The improvement in initial quality rankings among American cars may not be surprising, however, following millions of cars being recalled by Toyota Motor (Stock Quote: TM) after reports of uncontrollable acceleration in several of the company’s models. Toyota was previously known for making cars that retain much of their value even years after purchase.

Earlier this year, however, GM recalled 1.3 million of its Chevy Cobalts and Pontiac G5s in the U.S. and Pontiac Pursuits in Canada and Pontiac G4s in Mexico. Additionally, 163,000 of GM’s Hummer H3s were pulled off the roads because their hoods could detach, and more than 40,000 Corvettes were recalled because of a steering column problem that could cause unexpected braking, as MainStreet previously reported.

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