J.D. Power is a name linked with data from consumer insights. The company surveys many things for the automotive industry. One of those things is, initial quality. All manufacturers, including FCA, Ford, and GM take the survey results seriously. For many years, that survey has been dominated by import brands. Chevrolet, Dodge, and Ford have been left out of the top spot. That has changed, though. For the first time since the study has been around, an American manufacturer reached the number one position, Dodge.
Dodge makes history
In the 2020 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, Dodge made history by reaching the number one spot. It was a tie, actually, but number one none-the-less. It is the first time a domestic brand achieved number one in the 34 years the study has been conducted. That is an improvement for Dodge of seven spots over last year’s study.
RAM also placed
FCA, Dodge’s parent company, was also represented in the third spot with Ram, which it also owns.
According to the press release this morning,
“This marks the first time in the study’s history that FCA outperformed the industry average. J.D. Power uses reported problems per 100 vehicles as its measure. FCA’s total of 153 was 13 less than the industry average and 10 less than its nearest competitor.”
For many years, Japanese, German, and Korean brands were represented at the top of initial quality rankings. This year there were 31 competitors. Of those, Dodge surprised many by taking the trophy.
About the J.D. Power results, Mark Champine, Head of Quality, FCA – North American had this to offer,
“These results reflect the relentless, whatever-it-takes attitude of our team. Our complete focus is the customer, and these outcomes reinforce that we are on-target. The team is going to be inspired and motivated and will continue to push forward.”
Counterpoint – That is good, but
The consumer holds the wallet. So, it is good to improve products for the consumer so that they will open their wallets. While congratulations are in order to Dodge, and FCA as a whole, it is also good to look at what Dodge has in its product lineup to understand better.
A quick glance at the current product portfolio of Dodge reveals that most of the lineup is stale. Although still popular, the Charger and Challenger have been around mostly unchanged for eons. The Durango is also a little long in the tooth, although not as dated as the Charger and Challenger. The other two vehicles, the Grand Caravan, and the Journey are not even available in all US markets anymore.
Since the existing lineup is dated, Dodge has had a long time to update the products, improving quality, and perfecting any idiosyncrasies. That is a good thing. However, that also means that they do not have the first year gremlins associated with a new product. With that said, a manufacturer can only go so long before suffering from a stale product line. It soon becomes forced to introduce a new product or significantly redesigning a current product.
An American manufacturer has taken first place for initial quality according to J.D. Power. It is great to see that manufacturers are not standing still, and instead are striving to improve their products. The alternative is to accept mediocrity. Nobody wants that. So, kudos to Dodge and FCA on their improvement and the recognition associated with it. But, when the celebrations are done, when can we see a new product?