EVs: Tesla and Polestar rank low in new Vehicle Quality Survey

EV manufacturers, in particular, are showing significant drops in quality, with Polestar ranking dead last. Tesla, meanwhile, ranks seventh from the bottom, resuming its sensation of shoddy manufacturing.

The chip shortage and supply chain concern is more than just moving up vehicle prices — they’re also simulating quality.

JD Power issued its Initial Quality Study for 2022 model-year cars this week. It discovered that new vehicle quality had dropped 11 percent year over year, the steepest drop ever recorded by the group.

JD Power recorded 226 problems per 100 Tesla vehicles in this year’s survey. Combining all non-Tesla EVs, the survey says that 240 issues were reported per 100 EVs, a slight drop from 251 last year as more EV models hit the road.

The survey is based on input from 84,165 verified owners and lessees of personal use vehicles registered between November 2021 and February. Responses from the surveys provided data for 33 different makes and 189 model vehicles.

Software remains a persistent problem for the auto industry, with six of the top 10 issues related to infotainment. The chief problem was one of the most prominent features people are looking for in new cars: Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. CarPlay, in particular, is used by half of all consumers who took the survey, and they report fewer problems than the 17 percent of users that use Android Auto.

Survey takers found that both CarPlay and Android Auto were challenging to understand, and users increasingly had trouble making the connection work. Higher penetration of wireless CarPlay and Android Auto is attributed to the increase in connectivity problems. It has jumped from 4.9 problems per 100 vehicles in 2021 to 5.8 in 2022.

CarPlay is an Apple standard that enables a car radio or head unit to be a display and a controller for an iOS device. It is available on all iPhone models beginning with iPhone 5 running iOS 7.1 or later.

According to Apple’s website, all major vehicle manufacturers are using CarPlay. Vehicles without CarPlay can have automobile audio products from automotive aftermarket suppliers fitted. Audio: primarily provide audio content, such as music or podcasts. Examples: Amazon Music, Audible, Google Play Music, iHeartRadio, QQ Music, Spotify, and Overcast.

Navigation: turn-by-turn guidance, including searching for points of interest and navigating to a destination. Examples: AutoNavi, Baidu Maps, Google Maps, and Waze. Automaker-made apps allow users to control vehicle-specific features such as climate controls, gas levels, or radio via CarPlay.

Messaging/Voice over IP (VoIP): listen to new messages and reply using dictation in an audio-only interface. Messaging apps on CarPlay integrate with third-party Siri support (known as SiriKit), while VoIP apps integrate with the iOS calling interface using CallKit. Examples: Telegram, WhatsApp, and Zoom.

Siri is used extensively to discourage distracted driving, providing voice turn-by-turn navigation guidance and voice input for text messages. Newscast-style weather and stock outcomes are announced instead of displayed visually. Requests that get visual information may be blocked when CarPlay is in use; most native CarPlay Apps provide audio content with minimal interaction.

CarPlay-enabled apps installed on the device also appear on the CarPlay home screen. While most of the CarPlay software advances on the connected iPhone, the CarPlay interface delivers the audio and display linked to the car’s infotainment system. In addition, CarPlay adapts to various display sizes and control interfaces for each vehicle: touch screen, rotary dials, buttons, steering-wheel controls, and hands-free microphones.

Aftermarket head units may support CarPlay and/or Android Auto. Aftermarket head units can be purchased from Alpine, Clarion, Kenwood, Pioneer, Sony, and JVC. The iPhone can connect to the car through a USB cable or wirelessly in two ways: by exchanging network credentials with a supporting CarPlay receiver over Bluetooth, establishing a two-way Wi-Fi connection; or by using a dongle adapter to enable a wireless connection to the system’s USB port.

Most major automakers offer vehicles with CarPlay. Manufacturers with no CarPlay models include Lada and Tesla Motors. In addition, Honda offers CarPlay on the Gold Wing motorcycle and the Africa Twin. Surprisingly, the survey indicates that manufacturers’ built-in voice recognition features are working as planned; the only category to enhance infotainment features like Bluetooth connectivity, touchscreen display, and parking cameras.

In addition to the decline in quality, the report also lists elements manufacturers have cut to grasp the chip shortage: delivering fewer vehicles with state-of-the-art driver-assist features, heated seats, and parking assistant modules, only including a single keyfob, and more. In addition, last year, companies like Chevrolet axed wireless phone chargers and the gas-saving auto start-stop characteristics in some SUV models, and Ford removed some A/C controls from its Explorer SUV rear seats.

Initial quality winners include GM’s Buick for top overall nameplate; the automaker also triumphed the most awards ranging from the Chevy Malibu to the Cadillac Escalade. BMW and Hyundai won second and third place, respectively.

The pandemic has undoubtedly put a damper on the industry, But JD Power’s director of global automotive, David Amodeo, was surprised the initial quality study wasn’t even worse. “Automakers continue to launch vehicles that are increasingly technologically complicated in an era in which there have been many deficiencies of critical elements to support them,” Amodeo said in a press release.