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Tesla Tanks in J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study, Dodge and Kia Excel

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John Bedrow

Automotive Journalist June 25, 2020 at 11:21 AM
J.D. Power recently came out with its 2020 Initial Quality Study and it is not something Tesla should take lightly. The EV manufacturer came dead last in the rankings with over 250 issues per 100 vehicles manufactured. Kia and Dodge emerged at the top with the least number of issues per 100 vehicles manufactured.

J.D. Power’s brand reliability and quality assessments are one of the most reputed and widely accepted benchmarks in the market. Recently the company released its 2020 Initial Quality Study (IQS) with some brand rankings being a surprise while some being totally predictable. J.D Power compiles user data and real-world numbers to judge a brand’s reliability and services. Hence, this study can help you predict if your future car will be parked more inside your garage or its service center. 

This is the 34th annual assessment of brands that take under consideration aspects such as parts failure and features that are either too gimmicky or don’t work as advertised. Its metric shows problems experienced per 100 vehicles with lower the score, better the brand quality. Based on feedback from around 87,282 customers this study emerges as a wake-up call for some brands, like Tesla. Whereas, some brands and its customers like that of Kia are sure to be delighted with its top score on the list.

Yes, Kia has topped the 2020 J.D Power’s Quality Study with Fiat Chrysler’s Dodge making it a tie. Kia has been ranking right at top of J.D. Power’s list since 2015 and hence its ranking is no surprise but Dodge has become the first domestic brand to rake in the top spot on the list. What is also worth mentioning is the fact that another of Hyundai’s sub-brand, Genesis was the highest-ranked premium brand for the fourth consecutive year. While, Chrysler’s manufacturing hub in Toluca, Mexico received a gold medal for best quality assurance and minimal defects. Hence, Detroit Automaker’s ranking has taken quite a big step up considering it was 8th on the list in 2019 and 20th in 2018. 

Talking about the rankings of individual cars, even though Ford didn’t make it even to the top 10 brands, its Ranger was listed as the best midsize pickup in for 2020. Another Ford’s pick-up truck to feature at the top was the F-series Super Duty which became the best large heavy-duty pickup. Kia’s Sedona was rated as the best minivan while its Sorento was rated as the best upper midsize SUV. Its corporate cousin, the Hyundai Veloster shared the top place with Mini Cooper as the best compact sporty car. Some other notable mentions are Cadillac Escalade and Nissan Armada which were rated for being the best large premium SUV and the best large SUV, respectively. Chevrolet got the 3rd place on the list as a brand while its Sonic ranked the highest among all vehicles on the 2020 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study.

Coming to the brand that has raised the most eyebrows, the world’s largest EV manufacturer, Tesla. The brand was evidently last on the list and received the worst initial quality score of 250 PP100 or 250 problems per 100 vehicles. This was J.D Power’s first survey in which Tesla was included as the presidents of its automotive division, Doug Betts, explained that, “Unlike other manufacturers, Tesla doesn’t grant us permission to survey its owners in 15 states where it is required.” However, J.D. Power was still able to collect surveys from owners in the other 35 states. According to the company, it has based its score on the roughly 1,250 owners with the majority of customers owning a Tesla Model 3. The study also found that Tesla’s customers complained mostly about cosmetic issues like paint and fit and finish issues pertaining to its body panels and parts. They did not complain much about its features or powertrain problems. 

This might not come as a shock to many of Tesla customers who have often complained about its factory quality issues, rattling noises, paint defects, panel gaps, and wind noise inside the cabin. Alongside this, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has also launched an investigation into Tesla’s problem with old MCUs or Media Control Units that came with its Model S. Some Tesla owners have also filed a class-action lawsuit over paint issues with its Model 3 vehicles.

Hence, this should serve as an eye-opener for the EV maker which is currently growing its sales at lightning speed but with unresolved past quality issues. Such issues make us also wonder if Tesla should just focus on maintaining its top rank on the sales chart or rather focus more on adopting the quality levels of the top rankers in the J.D. Power’s 2020 Initial Quality Study?

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