by Matt Konkle
After years of middling to bottom rankings on vehicle quality surveys, it appears Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is set to shed that appearance with its newest releases. At least, according to a recent automotive industry report.
The 2020 J.D. Power & Associates Initial Quality Survey on Wednesday ranked Dodge, Ram and Jeep all high on the list, with Dodge finishing atop the rankings—the first domestic brand ever to rank No. 1. Ram took third, while Jeep came in 11th.
FCA’s overall performance surged five spots to a fourth-place finish among the 15 companies assessed by J.D. Power. The automaker jumped seven places from last year’s results.
“These results reflect the relentless, whatever-it-takes attitude of our team,” said Mark Champine, FCA’s Head of Quality. “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.”
The report results mark 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 Jeep, its average of 155 problems per 100 JL Wrangler vehicles sold also put it well ahead of the industry standard, and was its best-ever finish on the J.D. Power report. It also was a six spot jump over last year.
Ram surged 21 spots into a third-place tie this year thanks to its well-received full-size truck lineup.
The 34th annual survey, conducted from February through May, assessed the performance of 2020 model-year vehicles within 90 days after they were sold. It examined 233 problems which included climate, driving assistance, driving experience, exterior, features/controls/displays/infotainment, interior, powertrain and seats.
“The Initial Quality Study is the industry benchmark for new-vehicle quality and, year after year, automakers apply the insights they learn from consumers to make positive changes,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of automotive quality at J.D. Power. “The higher problem levels we see in this year’s study don’t mean vehicle quality has worsened; rather, the redesigned study asks additional questions that allow owners to cite more of the problems that they are experiencing.”
Over the years, the survey has been tweaked to keep it relevant to the industry and this edition was redesigned to measure components “that fail and features that are difficult to use, hard to understand or don’t work the way owners want,” according to a JD Power release.
FCA’s higher ranking by J.D. Power this year represents a significant achievement by the automaker under CEO Mike Manley, who took over FCA’s help following Sergio Marchionne’s July 2018 death. Even though FCA has improved its profitability over the years, led in part by strong Jeep and Ram sales, it has remained plagued somewhat by its relatively poor reputation for product quality.
Vehicle owners in all 50 states were surveyed for the J.D. Power study, which included over 87,000 vehicles.