The Most Awarded Brand of 2020 by J.D. Power Is Truly Surprising

J.D. Power revealed its picks for the vehicles with the highest quality ratings, dependability scores, and performance awards. Of all the vehicles on the list, one brand stands out. This automaker had a run of bad luck in the past, which is why it’s surprising to see it win so many kudos. 

Nissan earned quite a few awards from J.D. Power in 2020. The automaker outperformed even some of its more popular competitors. What happened with the Nissan brand in previous years, and which of its vehicles snagged J.D. Power awards?

Consumers lost confidence in Nissan in previous years

Nissan experienced problems with one of its previous CEOs, Carlos Ghosn. Some believed he forced other executives to use questionable business practices to meet sales goals. Many employees under their leadership felt the stress, all the way down to dealers, who ended up slashing their prices to make their sales goals. 

Ghosn was eventually arrested for embezzling from the company. After an investigation, authorities determined he had diverted large amounts of money to his personal bank account. He went to jail, allaying some consumers’ concerns. But the relief was short-lived. 

Ghosn escaped in late 2019 and remains at large. CNBC recently reported he’s living in Lebanon, where he enjoys protection from Japanese authorities. Though he’s no longer a Nissan employee, his status as an international fugitive brought more negativity to the brand.

Nissan’s plan going forward

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Since the Ghosn debacle, Nissan has struggled to stay afloat with its reduction in sales. The pandemic, causing even more troubles, forced the company to cut production and lay off around 30,000 workers at its European and U.S. plants. 

Nissan also decided to slash the number of models it produces. The brand began reducing its lineup recently and is expected to continue until at least 2022. The goal is to lower the number of models from 69 to less than 55. 

But Nissan’s goal going forward won’t be improving all of its existing vehicles — at least not by much. What it wants to do is to introduce a few new models to the lineup. The hope is the brand-new vehicles rolling off the production line will revive consumer confidence and inspire more sales from loyal Nissan consumers. 

Which awards did the carmaker win?

In total, Nissan won nine J.D. Power awards. Three were for high quality, four were for performance, and two came for dependability. 

The 2020 Murano, a midsize SUV, and the 2020 Armada, a full-size SUV, earned J.D. Power’s highest quality ratings. The 2020 Maxima, Nissan’s largest luxury-style sedan, received the same award for quality. 

The 2020 Armada and the Maxima earned awards for performance. The Sentra and Versa also won the same award in the compact and small-car categories. 

For dependability, two Nissans came away with awards. One was the electric Leaf, and the other was the Frontier, a midsize pickup truck

Despite the struggles Nissan has faced in the past couple of years, it’s still a decent automaker. Given some time, it’ll likely return to the reliable brand it once was.