Mercedes-Benz has ranked highest in initial quality among passenger vehicle nameplates in South Africa for the first time since the survey began there in 2004, according to JD Power and Associates, and its plant was also top-rated.

The survey is a customer-driven measure of problems experienced during the first three to seven months of ownership, and examines 228 individual problem symptoms across nine factors.

All problems are identified as the number reported per 100 vehicles (PP100), with lower scores indicating fewer problems and therefore better quality.

With 164 PP100, Mercedes-Benz ranked highest among passenger vehicle nameplates. Honda (165 PP100), whose vehicles were once assembled in SA by the local M-B unit, Audi (175), BMW (193) and KIA (194) followed.

The Mercedes-Benz East London assembly plant that builds the C-class ranked highest among South Africa plants in initial quality for a second consecutive year.  The plants are ranked solely on the number of defects and malfunctions in vehicles produced at the plant.  

The A-class ranked highest in initial quality in the upper small car segment with 97 PP100 – the fewest problems of any model in the 2008 survey.

“Mercedes-Benz’s continued attention to detail has enabled it to pass its competitors and rise to the top rank in 2008,” said Brian Walters, vice president of JD Power and Associates Europe, Middle East and Africa operations.

“The continued industry leading performance of the Mercedes-Benz East London plant is particularly remarkable considering that the plant was retooled in 2007 to produce left-hand drive vehicles for export to the United States and other markets. Maintaining high levels of quality in the face of major changes to a production line requires a concerted effort by the local workforce and supplier base.”

Other high-ranked plants were BMW Rosslyn and Toyota Prospecton.