Vehicle quality falls to lowest-ever in new JD Power survey

The shortage of chips and the crisis in the supply chain are not only driving up vehicle prices – they are also affecting quality.

JD Power this week released its first quality study for 2022 model year cars, which found that new vehicle quality has declined 11 percent year-on-year, the steepest decline ever recorded by the group.

Above all, the manufacturers of electric vehicles show great quality losses, Polestar ranks in last place. Tesla, meanwhile, ranks seventh from the bottom, continuing its trend of inferior manufacturing.

In this year’s survey, JD Power recorded 226 problems per 100 Tesla vehicles. Summarizing all non-Tesla EVs, the survey says 240 problems were reported for every 100 EVs, down slightly from 251 last year as more EV models hit the road.

The survey is based on responses from a total of 84,165 verified owners and lessees of personal vehicles registered between November 2021 and February. The survey responses provided data for 33 different brands and 189 different vehicle models.

Software remains an ongoing problem for the auto industry, with six of the top 10 problems being infotainment-related. The main problem was one of the biggest features people are looking for in new cars: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. In particular, CarPlay is used by half of all consumers who took part in the survey, and they report fewer problems than the 17 percent of users who use Android Auto.

Survey respondents found that both CarPlay and Android Auto are difficult to understand and users are increasingly having trouble connecting. Higher penetration of wireless CarPlay and Android Auto is attributed to the increase in connectivity issues, which rose from 4.9 issues per 100 vehicles in 2021 to 5.8 in 2022.

Surprisingly, the survey suggests that manufacturers’ built-in voice-recognition capabilities work as intended, the only category that needs improvement among all other infotainment features like touchscreen display, Bluetooth connectivity, and parking cameras.

In addition to the drop in quality, the report also lists features that manufacturers have cut to address the chip shortage: fewer vehicles with advanced driver assistance features, heated seats, park assist modules that only include a single key fob, and more. Companies like Chevrolet eliminated wireless phone chargers and fuel-saving auto start-stop features from some SUV models last year, and Ford removed some air-conditioning controls from the rear seats of its Explorer SUV.

Initial quality winners include GM’s Buick for top overall nameplate; The automaker also won the most awards, ranging from the Chevy Malibu to the Cadillac Escalade. BMW and Hyundai took second and third place.

The pandemic has certainly put a damper on the industry, but David Amodeo, director of global automotive at JD Power, was surprised the initial quality study wasn’t even worse. “Automakers continue to release vehicles that are becoming increasingly technologically complex at a time when there have been many shortages of critical components to support them,” Amodeo said in a press release.