To the Editor:
Regarding the Feb. 25 letter to the editor "Get more detail on J.D. Power studies":
The J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Vehicle Dependability Study is based on a sample of more than 37,000 original owners of 3-year-old vehicles. We survey a national sample of vehicle owners selected randomly from the registration records in each state.
The study has been conducted annually for 24 years, and automakers are confident that the results reflect market reality. Moreover, the majority of automakers use the results from the study to guide improvements in product quality. One reason for their confidence is that for a vehicle to be included in the study, we must have a minimum of 100 usable returns, although at the brand level we typically have substantially more.
Mike Smitka, the letter writer, mentions Lexus and Toyota specifically. For Lexus, we have more than 1,400 respondents, and for Toyota, more than 3,200. Smitka writes that the gap between Lexus and Toyota "is too large to be credible" and suggests that there is a "confirmation bias" among luxury vehicle owners.
His proposition, however, is inconsistent with our study findings. First, comparisons of luxury and nonluxury brands from the same manufacturer show manufacturers can achieve comparable levels of quality even in these different segments.
For example, Acura and Honda have nearly identical dependability scores; the same is true of Infiniti and Nissan. The findings that Cadillac, a luxury brand, ranks slightly lower than Chevrolet and that several luxury brands rank below the industry average are also examples contrary to the notion of a "confirmation bias."
Smitka challenges journalists to ask J.D. Power more questions regarding its methodology. I can assure him that reporters, including those from Automotive News, regularly ask questions about the survey methodology. J.D. Power's research conforms to the Council of American Survey Research Organizations' Code of Standards and Ethics for Survey Research.
Also, many journalists are diligent in making sure the news they cover is accurate.