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Toyota Quality Perception Rebounds; GM’s Chevy Declines

Toyota Motor Corp. had the biggest improvement in quality perception by U.S. consumers among mainstream auto brands in the past year, closing in on top-ranked Honda Motor Co., according to an annual survey by data provider ALG Inc.

Toyota’s perceived quality score climbed 6.4 points to 80.1 and the company’s Lexus was the No. 1 luxury brand, Santa Barbara, California-based ALG said in its Spring 2012 Perceived Quality Study. Scores for General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet, GMC and Buick brands deteriorated the most among the mainstream brands included in the study.

Ford Motor Co., Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp. had the biggest improvements over the past five years, ALG said. Perceived quality is one of the metrics that ALG considers in publishing a benchmark guidebook used by the industry to set residual values, or projected resale values that determine buyers’ monthly lease payments.

“For Toyota, a thirty-year history of good will has helped close the gap” to Honda that stemmed from record recalls in 2010, according to the study.

GM’s Chevrolet slipped 1.6 points to 55.4, GMC dropped 1.3 to 54.8 and Buick declined 1.1 to 57.8, with all three brands scoring below the mainstream brand industry average of 59.1, according to ALG.

“This is a troubling trend, suggesting that GM’s new generation of products, which has refreshed much of its lineup, has not sustained the upward momentum it had been building,” according to the report, which doesn’t list an author.

Ford, Hyundai-Kia

Ford scored 70.5 in the most recent study, with 62.3 for Hyundai and 52.4 for Kia.

Chrysler Group LLC’s Fiat, Dodge and Chrysler namesake brands were three of the five worst brands in the study despite being three of the six most-improved from a year ago, according to the report.

“While Chrysler Group brands remain among the lowest rated in our report, they show upward momentum,” ALG said. Chrysler Group is majority owned by Fiat SpA.

Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.’s Subaru brand had a score of 71.1, behind Toyota and Honda.

The perceived quality study uses a survey of 3,000 to 4,000 U.S. consumers to gauge brand perception, ALG said in the report.

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