Quality of new vehicles in US declining on more tech use, study shows

Nighttime aerial view of vehicle traffic along Interstate 405

(Reuters) - Quality of new vehicles sold in the United States is declining as factors such as growing use of technology and lower build quality of certain parts are making the models more "problematic", according to automotive consultant J.D. Power.

Build quality of certain parts such as audio systems and cup-holders have resulted in quality issues, the report said, which collected data from 93,380 purchasers and lessees of 2023 model-year vehicles.

Automakers have been leaning on software and technology as they rush to roll out innovative models amid easing supply constraints and labor shortages.

Problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) rose 30 PP100 during the past two years, the report said. A lower score reflects higher vehicle quality.

Quality ratings of Tesla Inc, which is not officially ranked among other brands in the study as it did not meet ranking criteria, increased by 31 PP100 year-over-year to 257 PP100 in 2023.

Electronic touch-point designed door handles offered on new vehicles have also become an issue, with seven of the 10 most problematic models seen in battery electric vehicles, the report said.

The wide range of quality problems in the automotive industry is "a phenomenon not seen in the 37-year history of the Initial Quality Study", said J.D Power's senior director of auto benchmarking Frank Hanley.

"Today's new vehicles are more complex — offering new and exciting technology — but not always satisfying owners," Hanley added.

Dodge ranked the highest overall in terms of initial quality, while Chrysler and Volvo were jointly ranked lowest, according to J.D. Power.

The study, carried out from February through May, is based on 223 questions divided into nine vehicle categories.

(Reporting by Nathan Gomes in Bengaluru; Editing by Shilpi Majumdar)