Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands continue to make significant strides toward industry leadership in long-term durability, according to the 2008 U.S. Global Quality Research System (GQRS) report that tracks quality on three-year-old vehicles.

The study was conducted for Ford Motor Company by RDA Group of Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

While the industry as a whole improved at a 1 percent rate in overall durability for the 2008 survey, Ford brand improved at a rate of 3 percent. The study measures vehicle defects, known as things gone wrong (TGW), as well as customer satisfaction.

The top non-luxury brands in the GQRS study are Toyota, Mercury, Honda and Ford, with a gap of 0.6 problems per vehicle difference from Toyota to Ford. And for the fifth year in a row, Mercury beats Honda in this long-term durability study.

"We are pleased to see the data support Ford's strong, ongoing commitment to quality," said Bennie Fowler, Ford group vice president, Quality. "At every level of the company, we are working together to design and manufacture world-class vehicles for our customers."

Five Ford, Lincoln, Mercury models were segment leaders in the GQRS study for either TGW performance, customer satisfaction or both: Ford Crown Victoria, Ford Ranger, Ford E-Series, Lincoln Navigator, and Ford GT.

Also released this week was a customer-based initial quality study from J.D. Power and Associates showing that Ford brand vehicles improved in quality at a rate faster than the industry average. [include link to our IQS survey]

The research firm's 2008 Initial Quality Study (IQS) showed Ford brand improved by eight points over last year's study, besting the industry average seven-point rate of improvement. Mercury improved by four points over last year.

Both the GQRS and IQS studies placed Ford and Mercury among the top non-luxury brands, with both in the top 10. The top-rated non-luxury brands in the GQRS study are:

Toyota with 2,962 TGW
Mercury 2,979 TGW
Honda with 3,129 TGW
Ford with 3,606 TGW

This news is the latest 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 study after study, we've found that initial quality translates to long-term durability," said Fowler. "As Ford continues its razor-sharp focus on aligning and standardizing our quality processes, this will only be good news for our customers."