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      06-10-2006, 11:02 AM   #1
Brookside
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BMW Design Quirks Cause Tumble In Survey



Design Quirks Erode '06 Quality Ratings

Cheryl Jensen
NYTimes


WHEN J. D. Power & Associates announced the results of its 2006 study of new-car initial quality on Wednesday, there were surprises at both the top and the bottom of the list.

Porsche, near the low end of the standings in 2005 below Kia and barely above Land Rover, a perennial poor finisher leapfrogged to No. 1.

On the other hand, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, both prestigious German brands that earned high ratings in earlier studies, fell well below the industry average in the study that Power, the market research company, has conducted for 20 years. Hyundai, meanwhile, continued its upward climb, placing third in 2006, between Lexus and Toyota. Other factors influenced the standings, too. The study was revised this year to distinguish between distinct categories of quality problems, separating those caused by production defects from those that result from design shortcomings. The first type indicates manufacturing quality: a malfunction like power door locks that do not work or a defect in the paint finish.

Problems in design quality are not failures or malfunctions, but features that do not perform as the customer expects for instance, floor mats that do not stay in position or a computer interface that works as the engineers intended but that owners cannot figure out.

For consumers, the enhanced study offers an opportunity to learn whether an automaker's poor score resulted from problems that require a trip to the dealership or because of frustrations over the quirks of operating a climate-control system. "With all of the new technology and functionality in new vehicles, customers are being challenged to figure out how to operate them," Mr. Ivers said.

And that is where the revised study may stir up controversy. Do design problems have a place in a study that measures quality, or is it better captured in other J. D. Power studies?

"We have always had both in I.Q.S.," Mr. Ivers said. It is just that the company is now drawing a "bright line" between them by breaking out the information. In the course of redesigning the study, Mr. Ivers said, consumers said design issues were as important to quality as defects.

This suggests that an operating system that requires hours of instruction at a dealership, like BMW's iDrive electronic interface, is as frustrating and important as a defect that necessitates a trip to the shop.

The 2006 Initial Quality Study found wide variations in how well automakers performed on the two measures.


More > http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/11/au...11QUALITY.html
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      06-10-2006, 11:20 AM   #2
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The culprit in its natural habitat.

This survey is so off.
I'm sorry, but i-Drive is is such a bogus issue- if you can operate an
i-Pod then you've mastered the machinations of i-Drive. I don't have it on my car but I've driven a coupla 3 & 5 series loaners.
I figured i-Drive out in minutes. I love cool little gizmos but I'm not a genius. If I can do it....
What I think BMW could improve is the quality of the lcd screen and the graphics on their sat/nav (compare it to the system Honda and Acura use
and it's like night and day).
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      06-10-2006, 07:50 PM   #3
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Here's a CNN article regarding the new survey criteria JD Power used this year. First year they've used design flaws, which I think is a stupid criteria to include.

http://www.cnn.com/2006/AUTOS/06/07/...iqs/index.html
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      06-10-2006, 07:59 PM   #4
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Great article..."an innovation penalty"!
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