By just-auto.com editorial team | 6 December 2007

For the first time since the inception of the study in 2004, BMW ranks highest in initial quality among passenger vehicle nameplates in South Africa, according to the JD Power and Associates 2007 South Africa Initial Quality Study (IQS) released today.

The study 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: vehicle exterior; the driving experience; features/controls/displays; audio/entertainment/navigation; seats; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); vehicle interior; engine/transmission; and other problems.

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

With 142 PP100, BMW earns the highest rank among passenger vehicle nameplates. Honda (145 PP100) follows BMW in the rankings. Rounding out the top five are Subaru (147 PP100), Mercedes-Benz (163 PP100) and Volvo (174 PP100).

"BMW has made steady improvements in quality over the past couple of years, which are reflected in its climb from ranking third in 2005 to the top rank in 2007," said Brian Walters, vice president of JD Power and Associates Europe, Middle East and Africa operations.

There was some good news for Mercedes-Benz. The Mercedes-Benz East London passenger vehicle assembly plant that produces the Mercedes-Benz C-Class leads other South Africa plants in initial quality, with 103 PP100. Vehicle assembly plants are ranked based solely on the number of defects and malfunctions in vehicles produced at the plant.

"The Mercedes-Benz East London plant was recently retooled to produce left-hand drive vehicles, which are exported to the United States," said Walters. "It is particularly impressive that this plant, in the face of major changes to its production line, has been able to produce vehicles of such outstanding quality."

For a second consecutive year, Toyota ranks highest among pickup truck nameplates at 227 PP100. Opel (231 PP100) and Isuzu (272 PP100) follow in the rankings.

Registering fewer problems than any other model in the industry, the Honda Jazz (lower small car) receives an award for a fourth consecutive year, while another Honda model -- the CRV -- ranks highest in the compact SUV segment. Also ranking highest in its segment for a fourth consecutive year is the BMW 3 Series (medium car).

Other models leading their respective segments in initial quality are the Kia Picanto (lower compact car), Audi A3 (upper small car) and Opel Corsa Utility (compact pickup), which receives an award for a third consecutive year. In addition, the Toyota Hilux leads both the one-ton single cab and one-ton double cab pickup segments. Both models receive awards for a second consecutive year.

Following the highest-ranked Mercedes-Benz East London assembly plant in the passenger-vehicle plant rankings is the Toyota plant (151 PP100) that produces the Corolla, Fortuner and RunX.

Among pickup truck plants, the Toyota assembly plant that produces the Hilux ranks highest with 158 PP100. The General Motors truck plant (163 PP100) and Nissan pickup truck plant (194 PP100) follow in the rankings. The General Motors plant produces the Isuzu KB and Opel Corsa Utility, while the Nissan plant produces the Nissan 1400 and Nissan Hardbody.

The 2007 South Africa Initial Quality Study is based on a representative sample of more than 8,600 new-vehicle owners who purchased their vehicles between January and May 2007.