Study finds design flaws, not parts defects, account for most interior-quality issuesFri, 16 Sep 2011 00:00:00 -0700
Design problems, not bad parts, are to blame for consumers not liking car interiors, the latest results from an annual study by J. D. Power and Associates shows.
The company released its 2011 U.S. Interior Quality and Satisfaction Study on Friday, for which new-vehicle owners were asked to rate interior quality based on whether defects or design-related issues arose during the first 90 days of ownership.
In this year's findings, more than two-thirds of interior problems reported stemmed from design issues rather than actual parts defects.
For owners of 2011-model-year vehicles surveyed between February and May, an average of 17.2 interior quality issues were reported per 100 vehicles--11.6 of which were the result of design-related problems such as nonintuitive functionality or inconvenient placement of features.
Owners of U.S.-nameplate vehicles reported the most problems, followed by owners of Asian-nameplate vehicles and then European-nameplate owners. J. D. Power and Associates says that customer satisfaction averaged 8.1 on a 10-point scale among those who reported no interior design flaws, but that dropped to 7.2 when at least one interior design issue was reported.
Research director Allan Dix said more than half of new-vehicle buyers cite interior comfort as one of the most important factors in choosing a vehicle. While part malfunctions usually can be fixed, design-related issues generally remain a problem throughout the life of a vehicle.
Of the top five most frequently reported problems within interiors for 2011, all were design-related:
-- Material scuffs/soils easily.
-- Cruise control difficult to use/controls in poor location.
-- Cupholders difficult to use.
-- Center console difficult to use.
-- Door locks difficult to use/controls in poor location.
Problems related to the center console have increased from 2010.
The study also found that interior design problems have a negative effect on brand loyalty and advocacy, as 74 percent of new-vehicle owners who reported no interior design problems said they “definitely will” recommend the brand to others. When one or more interior design problems was reported, that number dropped to 54 percent.
By Michelle Koueiter