J.D. Power Unhappy With Tesla’s Decision To Remain Out Of Initial Quality Study

5 months ago by Eric Loveday 38

Tesla Model S

Neither the Tesla Model S nor the Model X appear on J.D. Power’s 2017 U.S. Initial Quality Study, which means that study doesn’t allow you to compare them to other vehicles on the road in initial quality.

Tesla Model X

Why are these two vehicles absent? According to J.D. Power, Tesla doesn’t allow access to its customer registration data for use in the survey.

Dave Sargent, vice president, global automotive at J.D. Power, stated:

“I don’t know that they’re hiding anything. They just don’t want to participate.It’s not like their cars are falling apart.”

“They don’t want to play this game. We’re hoping they will come to the party because we’re increasingly getting this question.”

The merits of the J.D. Power U.S. Initial Quality Study have been called into question, so we’re not suggesting Tesla is in the wrong here, but it’s probably in Tesla’s best interest to participate, as all other automakers do.

Automotive News adds:

“For the annual study — which started 30 years ago — J.D. Power collects customer registration data from each state. It uses that information to send surveys to consumers who have leased or purchased a new vehicle for that given model year to report any problems they may have experienced in the first 90 days of ownership.”

“But some states, including Tesla’s home of California, require automakers to grant state officials permission to release the data.”

“All automakers aside from Tesla have granted such access, according to Sargent. J.D. Power, he said, receives about 30 percent of Tesla’s customer data.”

30% isn’t enough for inclusion in the study, says J.D. Power.  When asked to comment, Tesla didn’t respond.

Editor’s Note:  And because we are talking about J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Award, we would be remiss to not pass along this unrelated (and NSFW – satirical) video on the topic.

Sidenote:  If you enjoyed that spot, check out several more “…if commercials were real life” spoofs on YouTube via Zebra Corner (you won’t regret it)

Source: Automotive News

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38 responses to "J.D. Power Unhappy With Tesla’s Decision To Remain Out Of Initial Quality Study"

  1. Taylor S Marks says:

    That video was kind of funny. I didn’t see what was NSFW about it though.

    1. Devin Serpa says:

      Made me put on my headphones for nothing.

  2. James says:

    LOL

    This is the ad I have seen here in Seattle many times – where they make sure you hear the lady say, “Green Car Of The Year” is important to me – and they open the doors where you NEVER SEE THE VOLT or BOLT EV – The Green Cars Of The Year!

    LOL

    1. ffbj says:

      I scanned a few. The Baston guy is just great.
      The best one: (some may find offensive).

  3. DJ says:

    Initial quality IMO is a crock of crap anyways. Sure it’s nice that the car is well built when it’s new but if it’s creaking at every corner and falling apart a year later that is admittedly what I care more about.

    That said, with all the issues they have had with cars in the beginning though is anyone really surprised they don’t want to participate?

    1. Rob Stark says:

      There is no way to objectively survey quality 10 years down the road. How a vehicle was used and how well it was maintained can be just as important as how well it was engineered and screwed together.

      There is a correlation between how well a car holds up 3 months later and 10 years later. Up until very recently Toyota and Honda dominated the rankings. Toyotas and Hondas built in the 80’s 90’s and 00’s held up very well long term.

  4. Terawatt says:

    The LOL here is the assertion that Tesla doesn’t necessarily have anything to hide. If they didn’t, they would have every reason to take part. Obviously they don’t want others to see for a reason.

    That said, collecting this information from the manufactures themselves rather than doing independent surveys is fishy. There’s no way to ensure the different brands collect the data in equivalent ways, so the data won’t be directly comparable.

    Even so, the only reason for Tesla to say no is that they think it won’t look good. In fact, not only that: it means they think it would look worse than saying no!

    1. Tom says:

      Read the article again. They are not collecting info from manufacturers. They are selling the info that they gather to the manufacturers. The manufacturer can choose to pay for that or not. But more specifically certain states such as California require the manufacturer to agree to allow the information at all. The method for gathering the information is the survey. The names for the survey are gotten from state public record car registration data. California requires the automaker to consent to release of said registrations. Without the registration data for Tesla (obtained from the state) no survey can be conducted on those customers because their identity is not known.

  5. Nada says:

    Time for Tesla to put on their big boy pants and join the survey…
    Even the Chinese OEMs participate with JD Powers…

    1. Vexar says:

      I wasn’t aware JD Power did anything other than evaluate Chevrolet cars. Interesting.

  6. unlucky says:

    It’s clear Tesla has nothing to gain from joining this study. Their initial quality isn’t particularly good. And I don’t think their kind of customers they currently sell to would be more enticed to buy by J.D. Power results anyway.

  7. James says:

    I read reviews. I’m into them. I also try to determine if a review is real or fake.

    On Amazon, I’m constantly reading reviews and locally I go to sites like Yelp to help me decide on whether to go to a restaurant or do business with someone.

    A big observation is the review of the guy who just unboxed a product or used it for one day. “I bought this yesterday and it’s great!” What the heck does that tell you about that product a year from now? How often ( lots! ) do they say they’ll follow up their review with another at a later date BUT THEY NEVER DO?!

    We have to take all these details into consideration. The honeymoon period of consumerism is after you first get that gadget and you love it – UNTIL IT BREAKS. There’s also that buyers remorse period when you think you paid too much or should’ve got the competitive product.

    To that end “Initial Quality” seems like the unboxing guy. You paid money for it, sure you’re going to give it a glowing review – after all, you’re not and idiot. A true unbiased review made from daily use and logical thought and experience is a lot harder to come by.

    Tesla has cult followers that wouldn’t say a peep if the Falcon Wing Door fell off in their driveway. They also have critics all over from literally dozens of lobbies, unions, industries, car parts and service companies and investment firms.

    Tesla is a startup. I think they are wise in not being forced or bullied into this “club” of people who submit to J.D. Power. J.D. Power is as much a business as anyone else and it seems they’ve developed a cartel on quality that companies have to cave into or pay ramifications.

    I admit to have been swayed by J.D. Power statistics. Yet I also have given a lot more thought lately into how just and fair that logic is.

    The “if they have nothing to hide, they’ll just join the J.D. Power bandwagon” idea is kind of anti consumer rather than pro, it seems.

    On the flip side, when Tesla becomes a mass market big car company – they eventually should capitulate because if they’re the odd man out – they’ll pay a price in sales because of it.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “Tesla… eventually should capitulate because if they’re the odd man out – they’ll pay a price in sales because of it.”

      But will they pay a price? Honestly, who cares about yet another fake award which companies have to pay to compete for? If what Nix says upstream is right, and he nearly always is, then this “award” is an even bigger racket than most — the company has to pay again if it wants to use the “award” in an advertisement!

      Even if Tesla didn’t have serious build quality issues, I think it would be best not to participate in this sort of racket. Tesla has better things to do with its money.

  8. Nix says:

    “The Wall Street Journal reports that J.D. Power sells the findings from their surveys to automakers for $300,000, and then charges the same price for companies who want to advertise the fact that they’ve won.”

    https://www.thezebra.com/insurance-news/2671/auto-industry-awards/

    What I see is JD Powers trying to shake down Tesla because Tesla won’t pay for JD Power’s payolla scheme by implying that there is something fishy because Tesla won’t play their game.

    Fake payed “awards” are more common than you might think:

    https://consumerist.com/2010/05/10/can-you-trust-those-awards-you-see-in-auto-ads/

    Remember, when you buy a car with a bunch of these fake awards, YOU are paying for awards to make you feel good about the car you are buying. It is advertising.

    I applaud Tesla for staying far, far away from the pay-for-award automotive advertising industry.

    1. Tom says:

      Presumably there are a couple of benefits to JD Power.
      1. The car company gets information feedback from customers which can contain value. They apparently pay $300,000 to get this info.
      2. The car company can pay another $300,000 to use the info in advertising.

      But Tesla doesn’t advertise so the second point is moot. And presumably they have more data on the performance of their vehicles and their customer’s opinions already than any other maker. So there’s no value add to them to participate.

      1. Nix says:

        1) The car companies already have a complete track of the actual warranty claims that are done at their dealerships. They already have the hard numbers. If they wanted hard information about their actually defect rate, they have much more accurate information than whatever self-selecting survey return rate from customers might say.

        1. Asak says:

          Yes, but the surveys tell them what the customers *think* which is different. Maybe the car isn’t faulty to the point of needing a warranty repair, but the customer is dissatisfied. It could be due to a bunch of minor things. I could see some value in that. On top of that the figures being quoted for the survey results are small beans in comparison to the automakers’ other expenses.

      2. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        “…presumably they have more data on the performance of their vehicles and their customer’s opinions already than any other maker.”

        I would think that every auto maker would have more data on what their customers think about their cars than anybody else. And if not, why the heck not? Don’t auto makers talk to their service departments and find out what customers say about the cars, both good and bad? Don’t these companies do customer surveys and focus groups of their own? Why the heck would any auto maker pay the exorbitant price of $300,000 just for one more customer survey?

        Maybe there are auto makers who are that disinterested in what their own customers think, altho I would think that would quickly lead to the company going out of business. If there is a culture inside any auto maker that deliberately ignores what its customers say and want, then paying J.D. Power or anybody else $300,000 for a survey isn’t going to solve that problem!

    2. Rob Stark says:

      Load of BS.

      It doesn’t cost anything to participate in the Survey.

      Tesla’s initial quality is low vs direct competitors like Audi and Porsche. They want to get their act together before they start participating.

      1. Nix says:

        Rob, no BS. Go ahead and read the links. JD Powers even confirms right on their own website that companies have to pay them.

    3. unlucky says:

      Fake paid awards cannot be more common than I think. I think they are everywhere. Every time I see something that is “Diamond Certified” or on Angie’s List or whatever I know what is really up.

      I know that the companies legitimately do rate the companies. So there is some small value to the consumer there. But mostly this is just a company making a value for themselves by trying to make it possible for companies to present the thinnest veneer of science/rigor over their marketing messages.

    4. Asak says:

      Considering the size of these companies $300,000 isn’t a whole lot.

      1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

        …and that attitude is exactly why fake awards like this proliferate.

        As I see it, this is little more than a shakedown or protection racket. “Nice reputation for quality your cars have, there. Be a tragedy if something happened to it.”

  9. bro1999 says:

    I honestly didn’t know what “Initial Quality” meant until I saw that spoof video.

    I totally understand why Tesla does not want to participate though! Because I doubt they would be winning any of those awards anyways.

  10. Mark.ca says:

    J.D. Power is garbage and “initial quality” is completely useless! That is the only way Chevy will actually get any awards. I guess Chevy had to find someone to give them some sort of awards…what else would they talk about in their ads? As mentioned above, they brag about green car of the year and end up showing the gas spark in the background. I so want to get a Volt but too bad is a GM product…

  11. Nix says:

    Initial quality awards are a good example of a classic feedback loop combined with confirmation bias.

    1) A car company heavily advertises for decades that they get JD Powers award after award, and shows them off. People who are influenced by the award are attracted to the brand and buys their car.

    2) The car company gives the name of that customer to JD Powers.

    3) JD Powers then contacts the car buyer. The car buyer is predispositioned to say the car is high quality, because that was one of the things that they came to believe about the car they were buying, because the car got JD Power awards. Classic confirmation bias — they are biased to report high initial quality, because they themselves believed the car had high initial quality when they bought it.

    4) JD Powers issues another award for initial quality.

    5) The car company buys the right to use the award in their advertising, and successfully convinces enough new drivers that they have high initial quality to keep the cycle going.

    The feedback loop feeds itself, with buyers who believe in the advertising about high initial quality awards, reporting back to the company doing the awards that the car they bought has high initial quality.

  12. Dr ValueSeeker says:

    With the kind of squishy lemons Model X cars are, it is no surprise to anyone in the know. JD Powers is too polite and political. Very unlike Mr. Musk, who is always pointing fingers at others. JD Powers is hoping, someday they will still get Tesla’s business.

    Tesla knows its numbers are “off the charts” at the bottom, to use one of Mr. Musk’s favorite phrase.

    1. ffbj says:

      That’s not correct. It’s more likely that they need no such crutch to sell their vehicles, they have like 3 years worth of backlog for the Model 3. Plus they don’t advertise.

    2. Nix says:

      Dr ValueSeeker — Since you are posting derogatory comments on a Tesla story without disclosing your Tesla short position like you agreed to, can we now assume you’ve given up on shorting TSLA shares?

      How much money did you lose before you finally got so badly burnt that you quit shorting TSLA? Estimates are that shorters like yourself have now lost in excess of 5 Billion dollars since Dec. 2016. And there are roughly another $10 Billion dollars currently being bet against Tesla. How much of that loss was yours?

      https://www.thestreet.com/story/14170823/1/tesla-is-now-the-most-shorted-stock-in-the-u-s-stock-market-elon-musk-is-chill-about-it-though.html

    3. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Not that we needed any confirmation, but this latest in a very long series of Tesla bashing posts from the Seeking Alpha blogger and FUDster “Dr ValueSeeker” is certainly confirmation that Tesla is doing the right thing by not paying to participate in this fake award.

  13. ffbj says:

    Seems sort of suspect, J.D. Power that is, I never really thought too much of their methodology or conclusions at which they arrive.

  14. Bill says:

    Bad move for Tesla. Why hide? Your product isn’t good enough? Besides the vast majority of owners are shareholders, they wont bash Tesla so much. It just makes Tesla further damage as a car company.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      “…the vast majority of [Tesla car] owners are shareholders…”

      Yet another example of how FUDsters repeating a Big Lie often enough can get people to believe it.

  15. G2 says:

    A JD Power Award, and $4.50, will buy you a latte….

  16. Some Guy says:

    I for one don’t want to be bothered by telemarketers, surveys and the like. Especially survey which require my time for free so that somebody else can make money with my data (and assure targeted advertising later on). So I support that Tesla protects the customer data, especially when it is as easy as here, by doing nothing.

  17. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    The article says:

    “…it’s probably in Tesla’s best interest to participate”

    Ummmm… no. Not at all.

    It’s hard for me to understand why any any industry watcher would make that assertion. If there is any area where Tesla continues to struggle to meet the standards of more established auto makers, it’s in the area of build quality.

    The last thing Tesla needs is more media attention to this issue. For Tesla to decline to participate in this study seems wise from a business viewpoint.

  18. Bill Howland says:

    Generally I like GM’s “Real people – not actors” ads.

    To add ‘realism’ they include a perpetually jaded complainer. Maybe that is a millenial thing, but its dangerous to make fun of your own products: Too many people may believe the guy’s lies.

    For instance, Naysayers initially said the 2011 volt was Unsafe, Unproven, Fire-Prone (due to the battery which has caused problems in other ev’s), and a very poor value.

    Problem is, you are paying money to advertise a falsety that many views will walk away with because of the ‘cutesy barbs’.

    When the reality of course was that the longterm reliability of the VOLT isn’t so bad, its life cycle cost is in the top 10 lowest of any car ever made (due to its multi-hundred thousand mile longevity), and, in several slice of life annocdotal stories is probably the SAFEST vehicle ever made.

    If GM had trumpeted these features back in 2010, no one would have believed them, but that doesn’t mean they are not true.

    I’m into hard-sell advertising. Tell me exactly why I should buy your product.

    Adding an arrogant Boston know-it-all to add comic relief is just muddying the message.

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