Strategic Vision's 2010 Total Quality winners

Following the recent reports on vehicle problems and satisfaction by J.D. Power, Strategic Vision has now released its own comprehensive report for 2010.

Many studies released about new vehicles are based solely on the number of problems reported, often times missing out on several key factors that fully define the vehicle ownership experience - not so with the Total Quality Index study by Strategic Vision.

Strategic Vision's latest study was interestingly titled "Stop the nonsense; it's about Love and Quality," hinting at the idea that judging the true ownership experience goes beyond simply counting problems.

Leftlane recently had the pleasure of speaking with Chris Chaney, vice president Strategic Vision, who discussed the idea of the market as a whole reaching a crucial shifting point. Chaney explained that the results from the past several years of Total Quality studies show that there was a disparity between what the public generally perceives to be, and where automakers truly are in terms of quality and innovation.

More specifically, Chaney explained that - and we agreed - there is a lag between the reality of quality found on the cars being produced today and the perception attached to them by the public. For example, TQI studies first began predicting increased sales as a result of improved product at Ford Motor Company back in 2007, but despite the improvements found then, public perception is only very recently beginning to show favorable views of the automaker.

In 2008, Alexander Edwards, Strategic Vision's president, was quoted about Ford, predicting, "With careful attention to key areas such as workmanship, exterior styling and performance (which are quality cues for customers), Ford is building vehicles that also build brand equity and perceived customer quality that will lead to increased sales."

Strategic Vision also found Volkswagen of America to be a brand on the rise in recent studies, and for 2010, VW and Audi produced several segment leaders.

Conversely, Toyota's TQI results for the past few years seemed to be lower than the image and reputation the automaker was awarded by the public - something that has now begun to change following the chain of recalls harming the automaker's image in the past year.

How Total Quality Index is determined
The TQI score is calculated using multivariate statistical techniques that measure several aspects of the vehicle ownership experience including product, reliability and dealership (independent variables) against multiple outcome measures (dependent variables) which include the following:

* Satisfaction with the complete ownership experience
* Perception of quality
* Owner reported delight
* Future purchase intent
* Emotional attachment to vehicle

Scores are on a 1,000 point scale, and according to Strategic Vision, tend to fall between 700 and 900 on average, with scores over 800 typically being very competitive.

Standouts from TQI 2010
The results of the TQI study are very much in line with those of the recent J.D. Power Appeal study, with both Ford and Volkswagen/Audi taking home the majority of segment leading awards.

Ford managed to bring home the top score in four segments, earning awards for the Fusion, Taurus, Flex and F-150. Between VW and Audi, the German automakers took home the most awards with five, including the VW Golf, Audi A5/S5 Coupe, VW Tiguan, Audi Q5 and Audi Q7.

the automaker bringing home the third most awards was Honda, with three awards, including the Civic Coupe, Odyssey and Ridgeline. Toyota only managed to win one segment, with the 4Runner taking home the top honors for the mid-size traditional utility segment.

So how does "love" factor into the study?
"We [Strategic Vision] know Total Quality is strengthened by delighting customers and getting them to love what you provide. A customer will remark they "Ëślove' the way the vehicle handles; the convenience of the controls for the radio; or the navigation system that works with the satellite radio to manage traffic problems. We are ready, after twelve years of experimentation with the concept, to include Love in all the work we do since measuring how much love you can create is the next step in discriminating between winning and losing in today's competitive environment," said Dr. Edwards.

"Since 1999, our exploratory studies have shown the power of Love wins customers, creates advocacy, strengthens commitment and builds loyalty. It is critical how we measure Quality and Love if we are to help companies deliver what customers desire."

The Total Quality Index was calculated from 29,037 buyers who bought 2010 models between September and December of 2009.