The auto industry finds itself in one of the most difficult periods of the past several decades, or at least since the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies of 2009. Dealers have nearly run out of cars in many parts of the country. Popular car models are out of stock.
The primary trigger of the problem is a shortage of microchips used in car electronics and infotainment systems. The shortage may run through this year into next. Car price discounts may be a thing of the past, at least until inventories have been rebuilt for a while.
Prices for both new and used cars have risen. Used cars had among the largest increases in the consumer price index in January.
Despite the difficulty that consumers have as they look for cars, the methods by which they decide which brand to buy have not changed much. Several car media and research firms supply highly followed evaluations of brands and models. These include J.D. Power, Motor Trend, Edmunds and Car and Driver.
One of the annual studies most carefully followed by car buyers is by Consumer Reports. For its recently released Which Car Brands Make the Best Vehicles? report, 32 brands were evaluated. Each received an overall score based on reliability, road tests, safety and customer satisfaction. The highest rating possible for a brand was 100. The road test portion involved 50 tests. Owner satisfaction data were gathered from questionnaires sent to Consumer Reports subscribers. Safety scores resulted from an evaluation of independent research.
As an introduction to the new survey, the authors wrote: “Each year our brand rankings reflect the changes that inevitably come as automakers introduce new cars and fix problems in vehicles already on the market.”
The brand that did most poorly was Jeep, part of Italian manufacturer Stellantis. The company also owns the Chrysler, Fiat, Ram, Opel and Peugeot brands. Currently, it is the sixth-largest car company in the world.
Jeep received the lowest score with a 45. This put it just ahead of GMC, which was second worst at 48, and Mitsubishi and Land Rover, which each scored 49.
Jeeps began as army vehicles in World War II. The brand has had several owners since then.
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