According to JD Power and Associates’ 2011 U.S. Interior Quality and Satisfaction Study, around two thirds of customer complaints relating to vehicle interiors, revolve around design issues rather than actual defects or malfunctions.
Gripes range from materials that scuff or damage easily, to awkward sized cupholders and center consoles that are difficult to use, as well as vehicle controls that are poorly placed and hard to operate.
The study found that in 2011, vehicle owners reported on average, some 7.2 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) regarding the vehicle interior, and 11.6 PP100 of those were related to interior design issues.
“The vehicle interior plays an important role in overall owner satisfaction with the vehicle, as well as with the initial purchase decision,” remarked Allan Dix, research director of automotive product quality at J.D. Power and Associates. “In fact, more than one-half of new-vehicle buyers cite interior comfort as one of the most important factors in choosing a vehicle. As a result, it’s crucial to improve on interior design issues—such as difficulty using the center console or door locks—as these are issues that can really make a difference to the overall vehicle ownership experience.”
It’s also interesting to note that when broken down, most of the interior complaints also centered around domestic brand vehicles (69 percent) while Far Eastern and European marques were slightly behind (66 and 64 percent respectively).
On another note, interior complaints reportedly have a negative impact when it comes to customer loyalty and recommending a particular brand or vehicle to others. According to JD Power study, of those vehicle owners that experienced no interior related ‘problems’ approximately one-half said they’d buy another vehicle again, while 74 percent said they’d recommend the same vehicle or brand to others. In contrast, for those that experienced at least one interior ‘issue,’ the advocacy rate dropped significantly to 54 percent, while customer retention plummeted to just 29 percent.