Initial Vehicle Quality Problems Increase in Japan, Particularly with Infotainment Systems, J.D. Power Finds
Daihatsu and Honda Rank Highest in a Tie in Initial Quality
TOKYO: 13 Sept. 2023 — Vehicle owners in Japan have experienced more frequent initial quality problems with their new vehicle in the past year, most notably in infotainment-related operability and usability, according to the J.D. Power 2023 Japan Initial Quality Study SM (IQS), released today. Specifically, initial quality averages 151 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), which is 13 PP100 worse than in 2022 (138 PP100). Among the 14 brands included in the rankings, 10 brands have more problems than in 2022.
The study, now in its 13th year, examines problems experienced by owners of new vehicles in the first two to 13 months of ownership. Initial quality is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles, with a lower score reflecting higher quality.
“Among the nine categories by which new-vehicle quality is evaluated, there is a notable increase in problems in the infotainment category,” said Yuji Sasaki, director of research division at J.D. Power. “Problems in this category were also the most frequently cited in 2022. This year’s study again highlights this category as a major challenge. Japan has led the world in its unique technological evolution, particularly for navigation systems, but due to the global standardization of and changes in the specifications, users in Japan perceive that navigation systems have deteriorated in performance and quality.”
Following are key findings of the 2023 study:
- Rising problem area is built-in voice recognition: Built-in voice recognition has one of the two largest increases among all 221 problem areas, to 2.8 PP100 in 2023 from 2.1 PP100 in 2022. This is driven by the increased frequency of responses that the system doesn't recognize or misinterprets verbal commands, which is cited by 72% of owners this year compared with 64% a year ago.
- Problems increase with built-in navigation systems: The navigation system also has the largest increase in problems, to 3.6 PP100 in 2023 from 2.9 PP100 in 2022. Older owners experienced more problems with built-in navigation systems (2.5 PP100 among those 39 years old or younger; 3.6 PP100 for those 40 to 59 years old; and 4.5 PP100 among those 60 years old or older). Respondents who had used a navigation system prior to the current version are more likely to say the current navigation system is more difficult to understand or use than the previous one. As the usability of the built-in voice recognition systems has worsened, this also holds true for built-in navigation systems.
- Automatic high-beam headlights a problem for exterior light controls: There is a notable difference in the number of problems experienced in the exterior light controls equipped with and without automatic high-beam headlights, 1.5 PP100 vs. 1.00 PP100, respectively. Vehicle owners say they don’t think the automatic high-beam headlights are necessary, but they can’t figure out how to turn off this perceived unnecessary feature, or that it is hard to discover how to switch the automatic high-beam headlights on and off, so they simply kept the headlights on while driving. Owners also indicate automated headlight systems are not necessarily useful to them.
- Degree of problems differ among mini-car EVs and registered EVs: Comparing mini-car EVs (Nissan SAKURA/Mitsubishi eK X EV) with registered EVs, owners of the former say they are more problematic for electric range lower than expected, 5.3 PP100 vs. 4.2 PP100, respectively. Conversely, the latter are more problematic for charging problems, 0.7 PP100 vs. 3.5 PP100, respectively. Although a lower electric range has long been a barrier to the adoption of electric vehicles, fewer problems with charging might be an advantage of owning a mini-sized electrical vehicle, depending on how and why the electric vehicles are used.
- Quality of ADAS (Advanced Driver-Assistance Systems)-related features improves: The problem for lane departure warning/lane keeping assistance–alerts annoying/bothersome has the largest decrease in problems this year. It had been the most problematic since 2021, the year in which this problem area was first included in the study. The number of problems has been less frequently reported each year, to 5.4 PP100 in 2023 from 5.6 PP100 in 2022 and 6.3 PP100 in 2021.
Highest-Ranked Brands and Models
Daihatsu and Honda rank highest in a tie in overall initial quality. Lexus ranks highest in the luxury market segment.
The following are award recipients in each segment category:
- Mini-car–Sedan: Daihatsu Mira e:S
- Mini-car–Height Wagon: Honda N-WGN, Suzuki Wagon R (Tie)
- Mini-car–Super Height Wagon: Suzuki Wagon R Smile
- Compact Car: Toyota Passo
- Compact SUV: Daihatsu Rocky
- Midsize Car: Subaru Impreza
- Midsize SUV: Toyota Harrier
- Compact Minivan: Honda Freed
- Minivan: Toyota Voxy
The Japan Initial Quality Study, now in its 13th year, this year is based on responses from 21,647 owners of new vehicles in the first two to 13 months of ownership. Vehicle quality is evaluated by owners across 221 questions organized into nine vehicle categories: infotainment; features, controls and displays; exterior; driving assistance; interior; powertrain; seats; driving experience; and climate. The study was fielded in May-June 2023.
About J.D. Power
J.D. Power is a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services and data and analytics. A pioneer in the use of big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithmic modeling capabilities to understand consumer behavior, J.D. Power has been delivering incisive industry intelligence on customer interactions with brands and products for more than 50 years. The world's leading businesses across major industries rely on J.D. Power to guide their customer-facing strategies.
J.D. Power has offices in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific. To learn more about the company’s business offerings, visit https://japan.jdpower.com/.
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