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QUALITY GAP BETWEEN U.S. AND ASIAN CARS NARROWS BETWEEN FIRST MONTHS OF OWNERSHIP AND FIVE YEARS ACCORDING TO J.D. POWER AND ASSOCIATES

QUALITY GAP BETWEEN U.S. AND ASIAN CARS NARROWS BETWEEN FIRST MONTHS
 OF OWNERSHIP AND FIVE YEARS ACCORDING TO J.D. POWER AND ASSOCIATES
 AGOURA HILLS, Calif., March 13 /PRNewswire/ -- J.D. Power and Associates announced the results of a study on vehicle dependability revealing that consumers see a narrowing of the quality gap between domestic and Asian carmakers as vehicle ownership approaches five years. The quality gap can be measured by evaluating problems per 100 vehicles in two periods. The gap between Asian and domestic makes narrows from 22 percent for 1987 models when they were new, to only 7 percent today, five years later in this 1992 Vehicle Dependability Study.
 In the 1992 Vehicle Dependability Study, J.D. Power and Associates surveyed more than 20,000 original owners of 1987 cars to determine the problems experienced by those owners during their past year of ownership. When the findings regarding problems per 100 vehicles from the 1992 study are compared to the same 89 specific problem areas in the 1987 Initial Quality Study that are then summarized in 12 major categories, domestics improve significantly in eight of those categories after the car is four to five years old.
 "Consumer opinions about vehicle dependability give designers, dealers and consumers a clear indication that domestic carmakers have made significant gains in decreasing problem incidence as the ownership experience progresses. The quality race is never over even after the car is paid for because word of mouth lives on," commented J.D. Power III, president and founder of J.D. Power and Associates. "This is further indication that satisfaction is a moving target. All carmakers, worldwide, must consistently and diligently pursue customer satisfaction as a goal throughout the entire ownership experience. Consumers expect it and, in fact, demand it."
 The 1992 Vehicle Dependability Study is one part of J.D. Power and Associates' family of independently funded studies that explore consumer attitudes from vehicle purchase through five years of ownership. After four to five years of vehicle ownership of 1987 models, owner attention is typically centered on problems encountered. Problems encountered have been shown to have a direct impact on owner opinions regarding satisfaction with their vehicle and repurchase intentions. The study also allows a review of information at both the nameplate and model levels (see 1992 Vehicle Performance Study below).
 Certain problems are more severe than others according to the vehicle owners. The 12 problem categories, ranked by consumers based on their impact on satisfaction, are: engine, body, water leaks, steering and handling, squeaks and rattles, transmission, interior, temperature control, exterior paint and moldings, electrical and accessories, brakes and wind noise. When indexed against the Asian makes, the domestic gap closes significantly in the top three categories: engine problems, body and water leaks.
 Vehicle Dependability looks at the ownership experience as it nears its final stage by evaluating opinions of original owners' last 12 months experience with the vehicle. The study, funded entirely by J.D. Power and Associates, is designed to explore the dependability of vehicles over time. Most important, it provides an indication of how problem occurrence at this point in the ownership experience impacts loyalty and intent to repurchase a vehicle of the same make.
 J.D. Power and Associates is an international marketing information and consulting firm with headquarters in Agoura Hills and offices in Detroit, Westport, Conn., and Tokyo. The firm is best known for its marketing information and consulting in the areas of consumer opinion and customer satisfaction.
 J.D. POWER AND ASSOCIATES 1992 VEHICLE PERFORMANCE STUDY
 Best Overall Model in Vehicle Dependability at four to five years
 Mercedes-Benz 300/260
 Best Domestic Model in Vehicle Dependability at four to five years
 Ford Crown Victoria
 Best Asian Model in Vehicle Dependability at four to five years
 Acura Legend
 Best Overall Carline in Vehicle Dependability at four to five years
 Mercedes-Benz
 Best Domestic Carline in Vehicle Dependability at four to five years
 Lincoln
 Best Asian Carline in Vehicle Dependability at four to five years
 Honda
 -0- 3/13/92
 /CONTACT: Patricia A. Patano of J.D. Power and Associates, 818-889-6330/ CO: J.D. Power and Associates ST: California IN: AUT SU:


JL-CH -- LA002 -- 7670 03/13/92 09:02 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 13, 1992
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