Strategic Vision announces the results of its 2012 Total Quality Index™ (TQI) study.

With the industry best of only 17% of owners reporting problems, Toyota Motor Sales corporation had the lowest reported problems, resulting in Strategic Vision's lowest “Problem Impact Measure” (PIM) score of 4.29, a Strategic Vision metric that examines the report of the problem, the nature (serious, moderate or minor) of the problem, and the nature of the problem unresolved by the dealer. Although this is good for Toyota, PIM is only a subset of “Total Quality.” With near universal acceptance that manufacturers are running the tightest “quality race” ever, customers are increasingly defining “quality” holistically and using Total Quality in their decisions. Total Quality measures how closely the experience of quality matches the explicit desires of the customer. In terms of Total Quality, Volkswagen Group of America is the leader, followed by Ford Motor Company and then Chrysler Group.

“This is really great news for all those corporations, but the key to success and sales will be products that satisfy the customer's increasingly insatiable need for innovation, and the complete picture of Quality,” says Strategic Vision President, Alexander Edwards. “We point out Total Quality vs. “Fewest Problems” for a reason. When measuring quality, the complete experience must be part of the calculation and include all the perceptions that influence how people make their decision. For instance, even when ‘just' counting problems, perception is involved. One buyer may overlook what another may report. With Total Quality, we factor in all the perceptions that are proven to create the impression of Total Quality; this is ultimately how people think about vehicles and spend money,” concludes Alexander Edwards.

Volkswagen Group of America's Total Quality strength centers on the segment leaders like Golf, Eos and Tiguan, as well Audi segment leaders A4 and A8. Ford Motor Company was able to finish second with many strong segment rankings, and leadership from Flex, F-150 and F-250/350. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the most improved (3rd place) corporation—Chrysler Group. “They are definitely beginning to turn things around and the Fiat 500 (Small Car Segment winner) is just one example. Attributes like Fiat 500's Exterior Styling and Workmanship, and even Sound Systems, all become part of the Total Quality equation when one explicitly captures the heart and mind of how customer's think when spending $20,000 to $100,000 on a vehicle,” adds Darrel Edwards, Ph.D. and Strategic Vision Chairman/Founder. “Of course some brands do not compete at the corporate level. BMW and Mercedes continue to do well, but monitor the pulse of America, and are sure to recognize the current trend of ‘smart' luxury,” opines Dr. Edwards.

Other Total Quality winners from Chrysler Group were the Dodge Charger and redesigned Jeep Grand Cherokee. “Full-line corporations like Toyota and American Honda Motor are as strong as ever in terms of percentages of people reporting problems. It's just that others are doing such a great job also, and they have excelled in providing the kind of innovation that influences perceptions of quality,” says Strategic Vision Vice President Christopher Chaney. “Look at the Chevrolet Volt,” Chaney continues. “It may not be a sales leader, but those who purchased it were heavily influenced by a number of quality cues that made it a segment leader in Total Quality.”

General Motors provided traditional leadership strength with the Chevrolet Corvette Coupe, which tied with the BMW 1-Series Coupe, among Premium Coupes. When it came to Premium Convertible/Roadsters and Luxury Utilities, the BMW Z4 Roadster and X6 were the respective segment leaders. The new MINI Cooper Coupe had one of the highest Total Quality scores in the industry and, of course, was the Specialty Coupe Segment winner. Similar to Toyota, the Honda brand maintains a good overall Problem Impact Measure position and led three segments with the Accord Crosstour, Odyssey and [five-time] Standard Truck Segment winner Ridgeline.

The real message is that innovation is connected to perceptions of quality. If innovation is strong, especially such that customers can say they “love it,” when referring to the product, then perceptions of quality will be greatly (positively) influenced. Strategic Vision research has proven that those who recognize and acknowledge innovation (most new car buyers) will purchase, and not just be driven by counting problems. With all manufacturers being in such close traditional quality proximity (counting problems only), there is little question that those auto manufacturers who offer rich and impactful, intuitive, motivationally designed cars will have the advantage going into the future. A near perfect example is the Land Rover Evoque, with its incredibly motivational styling and impactful interior experience, that rates number one among all Near-Luxury Utilities. Even in the Large Utility Segment, buyers appreciate the Total Quality experience and rated Nissan Armada the winner.

Strategic Vision has presented Total Quality Awards™ annually since 1995. Based on Strategic Vision's quantitative “ValueCentered®” NVES study, the Total Quality Index was calculated from 45,390 buyers who purchased 2012 models during September to December 2011. The following list contains the number one ranked vehicles in Total Quality in their segments as rated by new vehicle buyers:

SegmentWinner(s)TQI Score
Small CarFiat 500 Hatchback869
Small Multi-FunctionVolkswagen Golf874
Mid-Size CarChevrolet Volt913
Mid-Size Multi-FunctionHonda Accord Crosstour879
Large CarDodge Charger911
Near-Luxury CarAudi A4 Sedan917
Luxury CarAudi A8 Sedan942
Specialty CoupeMini Cooper Coupe926
Premium CoupeBMW 1-Series Coupe
Chevrolet Corvette Coupe
ConvertibleVolkswagen Eos902
Premium Convertible/RoadsterBMW Z4 Roadster938
MinivanHonda Odyssey872
Entry UtilityVolkswagen Tiguan877
Mid-Size Crossover UtilityFord Flex888
Mid-Size Traditional UtilityJeep Grand Cherokee888
Large UtilityNissan Armada900
Near-Luxury UtilityLand Rover Evoque 5-Door928
Luxury UtilityBMW X6936
Standard PickupHonda Ridgeline863
Full-Size PickupFord F-150902
Heavy-Duty PickupFord F-250/350874

Volkswagen Ranked Number Automaker In Strategic Vision 2012 Total Quality Index

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