Ford leads industry in perceived quality gains

Ford Motor Company achieved the largest gain of any automaker in Automotive Lease Guide’s latest Perceived Quality Score, bringing customer perceptions more in line with Ford’s improved vehicle quality.

Ford this month was ranked as the most improved brand in the ALG study, showing a 7.6 percent improvement since fall 2009, building on gains over the past two years. Improving perceptions of Ford’s quality has been a key driver behind Ford’s recent market share gains and improving resale value.

“We have made huge strides in vehicle quality in recent years but customer perceptions don’t change overnight – so it is gratifying to see our real-world improvements begin to fully register with consumers,” said Jim Farley, Ford’s group vice president, Global Marketing. “The benefits of improved perception of quality are huge – from market share to residual values and purchase considerations.”

ALG noted that Ford residuals have seen a “huge upswing.” Ford’s average residual gained $2,420 (January-June 2010 residual guides) compared to the year-ago period; the average brand change was about $615.

“Ford’s goals have been supported by an entire portfolio of all-new or redesigned products that have been well-received both in the marketplace and among automotive critics,” said Matt Traylen, chief economist for ALG.

ALG said Ford’s improvement in perceived quality likely can be traced to several factors, some of which are:

* Ford has improved its vehicle quality and launched well-received new products
* Ford avoided bankruptcy and a taxpayer bailout unlike its domestic competitors
* Ford limited brand-damaging incentive spending and daily rental fleet sales

ALG noted in particular that the new Ford Taurus and Fiesta have been well received by the press and public.

“Customers want to see that you can be reliable in your quality month after month, year after year,” Farley said. “Demonstrating steady improvements in initial and long-term durability over time is helping us close the gap between perception and reality.”

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