Ford brand vehicles improved in quality at a rate faster than the industry average, according to a customer-based initial quality study released today by J.D. Power and Associates.  Ford brand also is the only full-line brand to show continuous improvement since 2004.

The research firm's 2008 Initial Quality Study (IQS) showed Ford brand improving by eight points over last year's study, besting the industry average seven-point rate of improvement and continuing its five-year upward trend.

Mercury improved by four points over last year, and the Lincoln brand exceeded the industry average.  Mazda is the study's most improved brand jumping 36 points from the 2007 study.

Furthermore, Ford and Mercury are among the study's top non-luxury brands, with both placing in the top ten and moving up in the brand level rankings compared with last year's performance.  The Ford brand moved up to eighth place from 10th, while Mercury moved up two spots to sixth place, just ahead of the Honda brand.  Lincoln ranked 15th among all brands.

"For customers who make their purchase decision based on quality, Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles must be on their shopping lists," said Bennie Fowler, Ford group vice president, Global Quality.  "It is gratifying to see our commitment to quality paying off in such recognition by J.D. Power and Associates."

Overall, Ford Motor Company received 10 vehicle honors, including three vehicles that scored highest rankings in their respective segments.

Highest ranked:

* Lincoln Navigator, large premium multi-activity vehicle segment * Ford E-Series, van segment * Mazda MX5 Miata, compact sporty car segment


* Ford Ranger, compact pickup segment * Mercury Sable, large car segment


* Ford Fusion, mid-size car segment * Ford Escape, compact MAV segment * Mercury Grand Marquis, large car segment * Volvo S40, entry premium vehicle segment * Volvo C70, compact premium sporty segment

J.D. Power and Associates 2008 IQS is based on responses from 81,500 new 2008 model-year vehicle owners after having driven their vehicles for three months.  It measures problems per 100 vehicles and was conducted between February and April. The study is the latest third party to demonstrate Ford's significant quality improvements.

Last week, Strategic Vision released its Total Quality Index showing Ford Motor Company brands with five segment winners: Ford Edge, Mustang, F-250/350, Mercury Sable and Volvo C30.  And Ford topped or tied for six segment awards in AutoPacific's Vehicle Satisfaction Awards.

In April, RDA Group of Bloomfield, Mich., released the Global Quality Research System (GQRS) report showing Ford in a statistical tie with Toyota and Honda. [] That report, an analysis of "things gone wrong" in new vehicles as measured by customers, is commissioned quarterly by Ford.