09/11/2012 Patrick Busschau Director: Loyalty at Ipos during their release of the latest SA motor industry sales and customer satisfaction results at Bryanston Gauteng. (05) Photo: Leon Nicholas

Roy Cokayne

THE QUALITY of locally produced passenger vehicles was equal to, if not better, than that of imported models while the quality of locally produced light commercial vehicles was significantly better than imported models, according to a new survey.

Ipsos automotive business unit director Patrick Busschau said on Friday that there had been about a 77 percent decline in the number of problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) between 2001 and this year and a 52 percent improvement in the quality of passenger vehicles over the past four years.

The latest Ipsos automotive quality survey revealed the number of problems in the passenger vehicle market had plummeted from 93 problems per 100 vehicles in 2009 to 41 problems this year.

Busschau said the quality of locally produced passenger cars was “as good, if not better in many cases” than imported vehicles.

However, the quality of locally produced light commercial vehicles at 52 problems per 100 vehicles was significantly better than the 73 problems per 100 vehicles for imported light commercial vehicles, he said.

Busschau added that local manufacturers were possibly producing better quality light commercial vehicles for the South African market or models that were more suited to the domestic market and “our customer type” than an imported model that was pushed down onto the local market.

He said overall product quality scores were all in double digits but most were below 50 problems per 100 vehicles, which was an indication of high quality in the market.

Richard Rice, the head of loyalty research at Ipsos South Africa, said this meant almost every second car produced was absolutely perfect 90 days after purchase and consumers did not have any complaints while there was “one issue” with the second car.

“That is unbelievable quality across the board. It’s really difficult to buy a real lemon today. If you step back four or five years, the scale we used went up to 300 problems per 100 vehicles,” he said.

Busschau said squeaks and rattles was the most common problems among passenger vehicles, recreational vehicles and light commercial vehicles but electrically operated problems were also high on the list.

The survey comprised about 14 000 interviews with consumers 90 days after buying their vehicle to determine what problems, if any, they had experienced in the first three months of ownership. The score is calculated as problems per 100 vehicles, which is a globally recognised approach.

Busschau said the survey covered about 83 percent of the entire vehicle market but a number of major brands, including BMW, Hyundai, Kia and Land Rover, did not participate in the survey.

About 150 models were surveyed but only 90 models were included in the results because the low sales volumes of some models meant it was unable to obtain a valid sample.

Mercedes-Benz and Toyota produced the lowest model scores across the segments. The best score across all the segments was obtained by the Mercedes-Benz B-Class (10 PP100), followed by the Mercedes-Benz M Class (12 PP100) and the Toyota Auris X and Toyota Yaris 1.3 with 13 problems per 100 vehicles each.

The brand category awards were dominated by Toyota, which tied in first place with Mazda as the best volume passenger car brand, but was also the best one-ton double cab light commercial vehicle brand overall, the best local plant manufacturing passenger vehicles and the best overall light commercial vehicle brand.

Mercedes-Benz was the best premium passenger car brand.

Nissan and Toyota shared first position in the category for best local plant manufacturing light commercial vehicles and Isuzu took gold in the best one-ton single cab light commercial brand category.