Kia Motors topped a U.S. vehicle quality study, excelling against most German and Japanese car brands.
According to the 2015 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS) released on June 17 (local time) by J.D. Power, a U.S. marketing information service provider, Kia Motors came in first among 21 non-premium brands, followed by Hyundai Motor, Chevrolet, and Toyota.
Among 33 brands, including 12 premium, Kia and Hyundai ranked second and fourth, respectively, ahead of BMW, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi.
The IQS study examines problems experienced by vehicle owners during the first 90 days of ownership across eight areas, such as engines and transmissions. The IQS, which is an important factor to decide brand loyalty and repurchases for U.S. customers, is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.
Among 21 non-premium brands, Kia topped the list, posting a score of 86 PP100, followed by Hyundai with 95 PP100, Chevrolet with 101 PP100, and Toyota with 104 PP100.
When 12 premium brands are included in the ranking, Kia came in second after Porsche, which ranks the highest in initial quality for the third consecutive year with 80 PP100. Hyundai ranked fourth after Jaguar, posting a score of 93 PP100. BMW, Lexus, Benz, and Audi came in sixth, ninth, 14th, and 16th, respectively, meaning that the four popular premium carmakers performed poorer in initial quality than the two Korean automakers.
By vehicle, Hyundai Motor's Accent sedan topped the small-size sedan segment, while its sports utility vehicle (SUV) Tucson was rated the most reliable in the SUV category. Kia's SUV Sorento and compact multi-purpose vehicle Soul topped the list in their respective categories.
“This marks the first time in the history of the study that Kia Motors led all non-premium makers in initial quality. This is a clear shift in the quality landscape,” said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive quality at J.D. Power. “We are seeing Korean makers really accelerate the rate of improvement,” she added.
Also, in a report titled “Korean brands lead industry in initial quality, while Japanese brands struggle to keep up with pace of improvement,” J.D. Power said that Korean brands continue to widen the quality gap with other automakers, while Japanese makers collectively fell below the industry average for the first time in 29 years.
Hyundai Motor Group officials are expressing hope that the study will boost its sagging U.S. sales in the coming months.