Ford Motor Co.’s Land Rover operation says it already is well on the way to solving numerous quality issues exposed in the latest J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study released earlier this week.

Land Rover ranked dead last in the report with 204 problems per 100 vehicles. Last year, the luxury SUV maker was rated at 149 problems per 100 vehicles. However, this year’s study covers more ground than the 2005 survey, and the industry overall did worse this year than last.

The study, now in its 20th year, ranks cars and trucks based on the number of problems owners encounter over the first 90 days of ownership. This year, the industry average was 124 problems per 100 vehicles.

Land Rover says its poor showing comes in part as a result of the historically “unparalleled” number of new product launches of the past few years.

“This has involved the introduction of complex new technologies and the application of new software architectures,” the auto maker says in a statement, adding a number of unexpected software and calibration issues cropped up at the start of the ’06 model year but were addressed rapidly.

“We are obviously disappointed with the results of the J.D. Power IQS survey, but in addition to addressing the vehicle issues directly, Land Rover has also made significant progress in implementing a transformation of its manufacturing facilities in the U.K. to further raise quality levels,” the company says.

“Land Rover has an excellent reputation and a loyal customer base, as evidenced by the 32% increase in its retail sales, year-on-year. We are clearly encouraged by our sales, but are by no means complacent. We recognize the need for sustainable high quality and will continue to strive to achieve the levels of quality our customers expect from us.”