Infiniti gains in key quality survey

Wed Jun 4, 2008 5:02pm EDT
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By Poornima Gupta

DETROIT (Reuters) - Nissan Motor Co's luxury Infiniti brand showed strong gains to rank No. 2 in a closely watched annual survey of vehicle quality released on Wednesday, while Toyota Motor Corp stood as the top mass-market brand.

The J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study showed Japanese and luxury automakers dominating the top five quality rankings by brand.

The Infiniti brand ranked 9th in the survey last year, while Honda Motor Co was ranked first among mass market brands.

The survey records the difficulties faced by new car owners in the first 90 days of ownership.

Ford Motor Co's Mercury was the top U.S. brand, ranking No. 6, and the automaker's flagship Ford brand came in at No. 8, just behind Honda.

The survey results are used heavily in auto industry marketing and are seen as influential in shaping consumer perceptions.

The quality rankings also influence resale values and are read by analysts as a proxy for warranty costs.

Kevin Martin, Nissan's vice president of total customer satisfaction, told Reuters that Infiniti's strong showing was partly due to quality improvements in Infiniti's QX 56 large sports utility vehicle, which is made in North America.   Continued...