Ford, GM Win Second Auto Quality Study

For the first time since 1997, domestic cars bested imports in evaluations 90 days after purchase.
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DETROIT (TheStreet) -- A second J.D. Power survey has shown growing consumer preference for domestic auto brands.

The firm's Automotive Performance Execution and Layout (APEAL) study measures, released today, placed


(F) - Get Report

highest, with rankings among the top three in five separate model segments. Five other brands got two segment awards each. They are Chevrolet,





Mercedes- Benz




The study measures evaluations of more than 80 vehicle characteristics by owners who owned new cars for more than 90 days. Between February and May, J.D. Power surveyed more than 76,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2010 model-year vehicles.

For the first time since 1997, domestic brands, collectively, bested the imports in vehicle appeal.

Last month, J.D. Power released results of its Initial Quality Study (IQS), which focuses on problems experienced by owners during the first 90 days of ownership. In that case, domestic automakers led by Ford demonstrated

higher initial quality than imports for the first time in the study's 24-year existence.

In the APEAL study, scores for U.S. domestic brands average 787 on a 1,000 point scale, or 13 points higher than the score for import brands. Domestic brands have been improving steadily for four years: in 2009, they trailed imports by five points.

Domestic automakers have improved on three fronts, said David Sargent, J.D. Power vice president of global vehicle research, in a prepared statement. "They have retired many models that demonstrated low appeal. They have also introduced new, highly appealing models to their lineups, and finally, they have improved their existing models through freshenings and redesigns."

Ford won segment level awards for the Expedition, Explorer Sport Trac, Flex, Fusion and Taurus, while Chevrolet won for the Avalanche and Camaro. Audi won for the Q5 and Q7, BMW for the 3 Series and 5 Series. Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz for the E-Class Coupe and S-Class and Volkswagen for the GTI and Routan.

Historically, vehicle models achieving high APEAL scores have been shown to generate faster sales, higher profit margins, and less need for cash incentives, J.D. Power said.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.