The vehicle manufacturing industry has, yet again, made "exceptional progress" in terms of improving its product quality, market research company Synovate reported on Tuesday.
Speaking at the company's Quality Awards for 2008, Synovate automotive client services director Richard Rice said that the average problem count on passenger vehicles in South Africa had declined from 182 problems for each 100 vehicles in 2001, to 117 last year and to 103 in 2008.
"This is the lowest score since the survey began in 1992. It is also a very probable indicator that, by this time next year, product quality will have improved to such an extent that, on average, there will be less than one problem a vehicle purchased," he asserted.
The research formed part of Synovate's competitive customer satisfaction research, which is the largest survey of its kind in the South African market. Part of this survey included a product quality measurement.
The survey is used to measure the number of problems new car owners experienced with their vehicles in the first few months of ownership.
The Mercedes-Benz S-Class, which was rated the number-one vehicle in the top executive passenger vehicle category, had achieved the overall lowest problem count of only 28 problems for each 100 vehicles.
The BMW 5 Series, with 52 problems for each 100 vehicles, was second in the top executive passenger vehicle category, while the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, with 66 problems for each 100 vehicles, took third place in the category.
The Toyota Yaris T1 walked away with top honours in the entry-level passenger vehicle segment, with only 32 problems for each 100 vehicles.
It was also second in the overall vehicle rankings.
The Chevrolet Spark, with 86 problems for each 100 vehicles, and the Ford Ka, with 94 problems for each 100 vehicles, shared second place in the category.
"[This is] indeed an outstanding performance in the entry-level segment and customers in this segment can certainly purchase with peace of mind that they are getting outstanding quality product," said Rice.
BMW, with 68 problems for each 100 vehicles, and Mercedes-Benz, with 69 problems for each 100 vehicles, tied for first place in the best luxury passenger car brand category.
Volvo, with 108 problems for each 100 vehicles, took second place in this category.
Toyota was first in the best overall volume passenger car brand category, followed by Chevrolet in second place and Renault in third place.
First place in the best local passenger vehicle manufacturing plant category was awarded to BMW, with 67 problems for each 100 vehicles, and Mercedes-Benz, with 70 problems for each 100 vehicles.
Toyota came in second with 79 problems for each 100 vehicles.
Rice further noted the achievements of the light commercial vehicle (LCV) brands, saying that LCV drivers and owners could be confident that they would "enjoy top-level product quality".
Toyota, with 93 problems for each 100 vehicles, shared first place in the best local LCV manufacturing plant category with Isuzu/Opel, which recorded 94 problems for each 100 vehicles.
Mitsubishi was in second place.
In the best overall one-ton diesel LCV category, Toyota and Isuzu once again tied, with Nissan in second place.
Further, Toyota was first in the best overall one-ton petrol LCV category, followed by Isuzu in second place and Nissan in third place.
In addition, Opel and Toyota shared first place in the best overall LCV brand, while Isuzu was second.
REASONS FOR COMPLAINTS
Presenting the findings, Rice commented that squeaks and rattles, as well as electronically operated items were once again listed as the top reasons for complaints from consumers.
There had, however, been lower counts of mechanical and performance problems.
Synovate's research covered about 92% of the overall automotive market in South Africa, as a number of original equipment manufacturers like Hyundai, Tata, Daihatsu, Daewoo, Kia and a number of others did not participate in the research.