New Car Quality Took a Big Nosedive This Year

·3 min read
Photo credit: VCG - Getty Images
Photo credit: VCG - Getty Images

Buying a new car has arguably never been worse than it has been in recent months. Not only has the disrupted global supply chain made vehicles near impossible to find, but skyrocketing demand has seen prices climb. According to J.D. Power’s 2022 Initial Quality Study, there’s now yet another reason to be frustrated with the current car market. More specifically, J.D. Power reports that new car quality dropped significantly during the past year, with 2022 now representing the single worst period in the study’s 36 year history.

According to the report, new vehicle quality declined by 11 percent in 2022. The average number of problems per 100 vehicles sold increased by 18 points, up from 162 points in 2021 to a staggering 180 points in 2022. The 2022 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study is based on more than 80,000 survey responses provided by customers within 90 days of purchasing their new vehicles. New for 2020, the survey features a range of 223 questions that look to suss out specific trouble areas for customers. This survey does not include questions related to the reliability, general model appeal, or any dealer related info, as those factors are rolled into J.D. Power’s other surveys and reports. Infotainment and software issues for example were far and away the main area of complaint among buyers in 2022.

“The worst we ever saw was 3% year over year,” director of global automotive at J.D. Power David Amodeo told CNBC. “That’s just massive! I didn’t have an appreciation for all of the challenges that everybody was going through until we saw the data and synthesized it.”

Those challenges include everything from the continued global semiconductor shortage to the rise in manufacturing and shipping costs. Automakers are trying to find ways around these problems, with some going as far as decontenting vehicles in recent memory. GM previously removed start-stop functionality from specific vehicles, while Ford once shipped out SUVs without rear climate controls. That is likely why J.D. Power also found a fourfold increase in vehicles slipping below their respective segment averages. Volvo, Chrysler, and Polestar performed the worst in the business, while Buick, Dodge and Chevrolet all showed some real measurable improvement. GM actually saw some massive quality gains this year, with Buick in particular jumping up from 12th place in 2021 on up to the lead spot for 2022. The Buick Encore GX, Chevy Malibu, Chevy Equinox, Chevy Tahoe, Chevy Silverado, Chevy Silverado HD, Cadillac Escalade, and Cadillac XT6 all led their respective segments in quality ratings. The C8 Corvette was also named the vehicle with the highest initial quality by costumers.

Photo credit: Buick
Photo credit: Buick

It is also worth noting the J.D. Power saw a higher frequency of issues among electric vehicles, with Tesla understandably performing the best in the EV segment. That performance was still only good enough to match Mitsubishi’s score, and its score was impacted by continued panel gap issues. That said, CNBC reports that Amodeo expects the trend of EVs performing worse than their ICE-counterparts won’t last much longer.

If you don’t absolutely need a new car right now, this report is just another reason to consider putting that purchase off. The industry has been in a really tough spot since the start of COVID, and things aren’t improving at the rate that we’d all like. Here’s to hoping that next year’s study tells a completely different story.

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