44-Reliability Measures: The Good News and The Bad News

The domestic auto industry has several companies that monitor the quality of automobiles. Some are short-term in nature. The J.D. Power & Associates’ Initial Quality Survey measures the quality of buyer experience over the first ninety days of ownership. Since all automobiles are under warranty during that period, this survey measures the hassle factor associated with early problems.

Much more important is J.D. Power & Associates’ annual Vehicle Dependability Study. This report is the result of analyses of customer perceptions over the first three years of ownership of a vehicle. It better reflects customer experiences with a product. This study recently named Lexus as the number one brand among the thirty-seven brands sold in the U.S.

Durability is a form of Reliability, in our terminology. In a Hostile market, the Reliability segment of customers is usually the largest and most loyal (see “Reliability: The Hard Road to Sustainable Advantage” in StrategyStreet.com/Toos/Perspectives). This seems to be true, as well, in the automobile market. J.D. Power notes that durability is the top factor when buyers consider the purchase of their next vehicle. Durability is more important than fuel economy or design of the product.

So, who got the good news on this latest ranking? It comes as no surprise that Toyota distanced itself from its competitors. The company received the highest marks in eleven of the twenty individual award categories. The three U.S. automakers had a total of three individual awards, while Honda, Hyundai and Mazda also had one each.

If the history of other industries has anything to tell us, this Reliability recognition for Toyota guarantees that it will continue gaining market share in the foreseeable future. Given their current size, the U.S. automakers have a cloudier future. They are likely to continue losing share, especially to the Japanese manufacturers.

Posted 8/28/08


A significant change in Reliability as measured by durability in the automobile industry has had an effect on Toyota’s market performance.  The US producers have improved their quality but this improvement is only slowly working through market share statistics. On the other hand, Korean manufacturers, with their growing quality reputation, seem to be having a significant impact, especially on the market share of Toyota.

In the 2022 JD power ranking, the top 5 mass-market brands are Kia, Buick, Hyundai, Toyota and Dodge.  In the premium segment, Genesis, Lexus, Porsche, Cadillac and Lincoln are the top 5 brands.  Overall General Motors and Toyota each received 5 segment awards for models with the fewest reported problems in their respective segments.

As other competitors, particularly the Koreans, have grown their market shares with high quality products, Toyota’s US market share has stagnated.  In 2008, Toyota’s US market share was 14%.  By the end of 2021 its market share was 12.75%.  In 2020, Toyota led the global market with a share of 8.5%.  Volkswagen followed at 7.8%.  Hyundai was 3rd at 5.4%.  Ford was 4th at 5.1% and Honda was 5th at 4.8%.

Over the 5 years leading to 2020, General Motors and Ford both have lost US market share slowly.

We have found that there are three fundamental ways to improve a product for customer. Each of these ways seeks to reduce some form of customer cost. HERE is a description of those three approaches. Reliability innovations improve the customer’s experience with the product and usually are the most difficult to implement over time but also the most effective.



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