Overall, drivers are more satisfied with their insurance companies this year than last, according to J. D. Power’s 2012 U.S. Auto Insurance Study.
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There are a lot of car stereotypes out there, like that Toyota builds dull appliances. While true on many fronts, the Japanese automaker does also make exciting sporty cars like the Scion FR-S, and Lexus LFA, both praised for their exhilarating rides, edgy styling and pulse-raising performance. But there’s another stereotype that needs to be dealt with.
Likely you’ve heard the phrase “German engineering” more than a few times in your life and there’s a popular misconception that it equals good reliability. German cars are well engineered, sometimes to be amazing performance machines and sometimes to be incredibly high-tech (and often both) but, Porsche aside, German cars don’t have the best track record for reliability.
J.D. Power has released a study today which details the top five new technologies which car buyers want in their cars.
Utilizing auto insurance is a reality we all must face once and a while, and according to J.D. Power and Associates, the services provided to the public are slowly getting worse.
The findings from the U.S. auto claims satisfaction study show that the overall level of customer satisfaction, when it comes to the auto claims experience has declined to the lowest level it has been at in the last three calendar quarters.
One of the biggest losses in service is the overall time it takes for your vehicle to get repaired, starting on the day you make the claim. The average wait time is now 15.8 days, compared to the average wait time in the last quarter of 2011, which was 15 days, wait times have increased almost a full day.
Not all the blame lays with insurance companies however, as almost half of the people who reported an increase in wait times also say that they brought their cars in on a convenient day for them, rather than as soon possible. This is probably the leading contributing factor to the fact that repair times have increased as well, because people wait for holidays or the weekend to get their vehicles serviced, thus backing up the mechanics.
The overall satisfaction in service interaction and appraisal dropped as well. “This suggests insurers need to do a better job of managing customer expectations for claims processing and vehicle repair times,” said Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates.
Have you had an insurance claim recently? Were you pleased with your service? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
Car and Driver has published an article expressing its gripes with J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study, stating that its results tell us less about a vehicle’s defects then we might think. J.D. Power’s IQS measures new-vehicle quality after 90-days of ownership and has done so since 1987, but the advent of more technologically advanced features are now impacting quality results.
Take Ford for example. From 2010 to 2011, Ford dropped 18 places (from fifth to 23rd) in J.D.’s IQS, but one would argue that Ford’s quality has only increased over the past year – surely not decreased that significantly. The reasoning behind it is the fact that J.D. Power is voicing the opinion of the consumer and consumers are complaining about design issue rather than a functionality problem. That is, a customer finds it frustrating to use Ford’s MyFord Touch system and notches it as a problem, rather than observing a loose electrical connection, something that really impacts the quality of a vehicle.
Another great example from Ford is the new PowerShift dual-clutch automatic found in their new Fiesta. Customers are complaining about its shift quality compared to a conventional automatic transmission with a torque converter, but there has hardly been any actual mechanical issues problems with the transmission, if at all.
Unfortunately a lot of the manufacturers are actually changing the functionality of the vehicle because of these complaints, such as Porsche consumers complaining about brake pad dust. Obviously the better-performing a brake pad is, the more dust it produces; but the general laymen finds it an inconvenience and even a quality issue if a brake pad produces so much dust. As a result, Porsche vehicles are probably equipped with less-capable pads than they originally were, all because of these “quality” issues being reported by J.D. Power.
At the end of the day though, it’s still the voice of the consumer that manufacturers care about.
[Source: Car and Driver]
AutoGuide.com would like to announce that Charles Britt of Butler, Tn., is the recipient of a $500 Discount Tire gift card. Britt was randomly selected from the thousands of entries to the AutoGuide.com/J.D. Power Audience Survey.
The staff at AutoGuide.com would like to thank all those who participated. And congratulations to Charles Britt!
Want to win $500 towards a set of tires? You could be the lucky winner of a Discount Tire voucher for 500 big ones just be filling out a survey being put on by AutoGuide.com and J.D. Power.
The AutoGuide Audience Survey will ask questions regarding how social media and other online tools help influence your decision with respect to buying a car. The short survey can be filled out here and the data will be analyzed by J.D. Power as a means of helping discover what social media tools are used most by vehicle buyers. One participant will be randomly selected to win $500 towards a set of tires from Discount Tire.
Despite poor showings in various quality surveys, not to mention anecdotal evidence abound, Volkswagen is tackling its vehicle quality problems head on, and is openly discussing the steps it will take to remedy them.
The J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey, regarded as the gold standard among industry types, pegged VW at 29th out of 32 brands, a poor showing for a company eager to sell 800,000 vehicles per year in the United States by 2018.
Volkswagen said that its warranty costs were down by 10 percent last year, and are on track for the same figure this year – a figure that’s adjusted for a new free maintenance program and a shorter warranty term. VW will be looking to improve its score on the J.D. Power survey, which includes not just defects but consumer complaints about functioning parts of the vehicle – a criteria that some automakers have begun criticizing.
[Source: USA Today]
Some good news for this recession: according to J.D. Power and Associates, the cars on sale today are more appealing than ever before—all the better to win consumers in this difficult economy.
Most appealing? How is J.D. Power able to gauge this seemingly-subjective criteria? Through customer surveys of 80 vehicle attributes, combined with sales figures, which is what J.D. Power does best. Since 1996, the Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study (APEAL) has been an attempt for the company to determine how much consumers enjoy the cars they’ve just bought, and despite difficult times for both the economy as well as the auto industry, people are indeed still buying cars and still giving their opinions on them.
The APEAL study found that new or redesigned models are both better-looking and have better fuel economy than their outgoing examples: two points that attract consumers more than anything else. J.D. Power maps this on a 1000-point scale, and from 778 total points in 2010, the industry average of overall vehicle appeal has jumped to 781 points—the most it’s ever been since the survey’s inception in 1996.
“The auto industry has taken a battering during the past few years,” said David Sargent, vice president of vehicle research. “However, it is clear that throughout this period, automakers have never lost sight of the fact that survival—and ultimately success—only comes from winning over customers in the showroom. Offering highly appealing vehicles is one of the primary means to succeed.”
The survey may be industry-wide, but certain manufacturers still stood out. BMW had three cars that received satisfactory ratings: the X3, Z4 and 5-Series all drove away with awards, as well as Dodge’s Challenger, Charger, and Durango. Ford and Honda each captured awards for the F-150 and Fiesta, as well as the Ridgeline and Odyssey, respectively. Some cars of note included the Chevrolet Volt, Range Rover, Lexus IS, MINI Countryman, Nissan Armada, Porsche Cayenne, Scion xB, Suzuki Kizashi, Volkswagen GTI, and the Hyundai Equus—which walked away with the highest APEAL score in the industry, beating out the usual suspects BMW 7-Series, Lexus LS and Mercedes S-Class for the first time, a point that will come to a Hyundai network television ad near you soon.
For the seventh year in a row, Porsche carried the highest APEAL score at 879. Suzuki, despite its aforementioned Kizashi, slithered by with the lowest. For the full ranking, click the jump to view lots of J.D. Power’s famous graphs.
Ford‘s meteoric rise may have hit a speedbump with the latest J.D. Power Initial Quality results showing the Blue Oval at its worst ranking in a decade, coming in at 23rd. Meanwhile, perrenial quality champion Toyota rebounded from 21st last year to 7th this year, after an annus horriblus of recalls, lawsuits and quality defects that saw millions of vehicles recalled.
Toyota’s Lexus brand captured the top spot, up from 4th, followed by Honda, Acura, Mercedes-Benz and Mazda. Porsche, last year’s leader, finished 6th. Ford was said to be dinged due to transmission issues, as well as consumer dissatisfaction with both the SYNC and MyFordTouch/MyLincolnTouch infotainment systems, which were said to be glitch-prone and unintuitive.
While the J.D. Power survey is regarded as a gold standard among consumers, the survey only measures problems within the first 90 days of ownership, and does not take long-term reliability into account.
Based on the high price of hybrid and electric vehicles, not to mention how long it takes to recoup the added cost through fuel savings (if ever), the number one reason to purchase one should be environmental concerns. The opposite appears to be true for the majority of green car buyers, 75 percent of whom say fuel savings is the number one reason they would consider an “alternative powertrain” model.
This statistic comes from the first annual J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Green Automotive Study, which looks at consumer interest and reaction to hybrid electric vehicles, clean diesel models, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles. In the survey total of 75 percent of those polled listed lower fuel costs as a main factor in buying a hybrid, compared to 50 percent who listed “better for the environment.”
Of note, consumers who said they are not looking to switch to an alternative powertrain vehicle cited price, increased maintenance cost and range anxiety.
“Alternative powertrains face an array of challenges as they attempt to gain widespread acceptance in the market,” said Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global vehicle research at J.D. Power and Associates. “It is the financial issues that most often resonate with consumers, whether it is the higher price of the vehicle itself, the cost to fuel or charge the vehicle, or the fear of higher maintenance costs. The bottom line is that most consumers want to be green, but not if there is a significant personal cost to them.” In addition VanNieuwkuyk says that for alternative powertrains to succeed they need to be economically sustainable.
Yet despite increased interest in alternative powertrain vehicles, overall sales continue to be slow and according to J.D. Power, hybrid and electric vehicles are expected to make up less than 10 percent of the U.S. market though 2016.
While Italian sports cars get a bad rap for being fickle, nobody has ever accused the Porsche 911 of having major reliability issues, and J.D. Power, publisher of the legendary reliability rankings, seems to confirm that, having named the 911 the most reliable sports car and Porsche as the top German manufacturer.
While some of Porsche’s newer vehicles have been afflicted with engine problems, J.D. Power still gave the brand top marks, likely since its owner survey is based on the opinions of people who forked out good money for their cars. On the other hand, a Canadian study recently showed that 97.4 percent of Porsches from the last 25 years are still on the road, a testament to their longevity and robustness. Only time will tell if a current Boxster, Cayman, Cayenne or 911 will be as resilient.
Lincoln received the top award for from J.D. Power and Associates in their annual durability study, narrowly beating out Lexus as well as all other brands sold in America.
Two models from Lincoln in particular received shout-outs: the MKZ was the highest-ranked in the category of Entry Premium, and the Navigator captured the Large Premium Crossover/SUV segment. The MKZ was the second-highest performing vehicle in the study overall.
The J.D. Power and Associates study covered long-term durability for vehicles up to three years old; it charts the number of problems per 100 vehicles, and graphs them as points. This is Lincoln’s first win in the company’s 94-year histor, and it only featured 101 problems, beating out Lexus by merely 8 points. The industry average, meanwhile, is 152 points.
Overall, Ford received four top segment awards, with the two Lincolns as well as the Fusion and Mustang. But even though Lexus placed second, parent company Toyota held the most segment victories overall, with seven vehicles—almost as if the recall didn’t happen. Right?
For the full statistics (and bar graphs galore) from J.D. Power, click here.
For the third year in a row Lexus has taken the top spot in J.D. Power’s annual Customer Service Index Study, which rates the satisfaction by owners and lessees of their dealership service department.
On a 1,000 point scale, Lexus achieved 846 points, with Jaguar placing second at 837 and Cadillac third at 830 in the ‘Luxury Brand’ survey. At the bottom of the list for luxury automakers was Land Rover with just 785 points, while Volvo (788) and Audi (794) placed just ahead.
In the ‘Mass Market Brands’ category MINI topped the list with 805 points, with GMC in seconds at 803 and Buick in third at 799. Following those was Chevrolet at 792, placing all of GM’s brands near the top of the index.
The lowest scoring mass market brands included Suzuki (724), Jeep (728) and Nissan (731).
Of the 97,300 owners and lessees surveyed, just 7 percent felt their dealer tried to sell unnecessary work, with those respondents averaging a rating of 642, versus an average of 780 for those who felt otherwise.
GALLERY: J.D. Power Customer Service Index
Automakers know how important customer loyalty is to the success of their companies. That’s why the good ones concentrate not only on making a safe and reliable vehicle, but one that’s fun to drive as well, and then back it up with great service. And J.D. Power is on top of which automakers are doing just that with their 2010 Customer Retention Study that shows which car buyers coming back for more.
New-vehicle owners are increasingly citing fun-to-drive vehicles as a top reason to remain loyal to their brand, while shifting away from expected resale value. Topping the list are Ford and Honda in a tie with a 62 percent rate of customer retention. Following close behind are Hyundai, Lexus and Toyota with a rate of 60 percent each.
The study shows that import manufacturers have the edge on the domestics but that gap is closing, thanks in part to customers realizing that American automakers are producing a greater number of good products. In the study, nine of the top 10 automakers are imports.
The automaker with the biggest jump is Kia, which has climbed the most compared to the 2009 study. They have jumped 21 percentage points, and is now seeing a retention of 58 percent (that’s 10 points above the industry average).
In addition to customer retention, the study also looks at the rates at which automotive brands capture customers from their competitors (this is known as conquesting). The importance of a fun-to-drive vehicle has also risen as a reason why brands conquest new customers from their competitors, as has vehicle styling.
Each year J.D. Power ranks numerous categories in the automotive sector, the latest being customer satisfaction with their purchase experience. In other words, the results of the Sales Satisfaction Index Study show how consumers rank their dealerships.
Tops on the list of “Mass Market Brands” for 2010 is MINI, followed by Mercury in 2nd place and GMC in 3rd. Falling below the average are big names like Honda and Toyota with Nissan ranking the lowest with just 707 points out of a possible 1,000.
In the Luxury Brand category, Jaguar took the top spot (for the 3rd year in a row), followed by Cadillac and then Mercedes-Benz, while Volvo ranked lowest, just below Audi.
Of note, Honda luxury brand Acura fell below the average in the luxury class, as did Nissan’s Infiniti brand.
The annual survey conducted by J.D. Power ranks the new-vehicle purchase experience based on customer satisfaction, which is calculated based on four factors: working out a deal (33 percent), the salesperson (25 percent), the delivery process (21 percent), and the dealership facility (20 percent).
Dealer satisfaction is more important that you might expect, with the J.D. Power survey showing that 52 percent of people cited how they re treated by their dealeras a reason to purchase a vehicle there, while just 38 percent said vehicle price was the reason for the dealer.
See after the jump for the complete lists of dealers by automaker and how they ranked:
We tend to think of hybrid car owners as the most satisfied owners. But it turns out that the smugness radiates not from those silent environment-saving pseudo-hatchbacks, but from vehicles with the three pointed star on the good.
A study undertaken by J.D. Power found that Mercedes-Benz owners were the most satisfied vehicle owners in their home country of Germany. The firm interviewed over 16,000 drivers about their ownership experience, and Mercedes placed first among all brands, with the C-Class and CLK leading their respective segments.
We can imagine that after having plunked down a significant sum of money, one would feel happy no matter what (after all, are you going to be unhappy with your shiny new Benzo), but considering that German drivers get to take their vehicles on the autobahn (where you can regularly use a car like the C63 in the way it was meant to be used), we’d probably be all smiles too.
In a reversal of previous trends, domestic brands reported fewer aggregate quality problems than import brands for the first time in the history of J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Survey.
Domestic vehicles reported 108 problems per 100 vehicles, compared to 109 problems per 100 vehicles for imports – not a very wide margin, but an important step for domestic vehicles. Leading the domestics rise to the top was Ford, with 12 models leading their respective categories, while General Motors had 10 models leading their segments. Overall, Porsche was the big winner, with a mere 83 problems per 100 vehicles followed by Acura and Mercedes-Benz.
The big losers for 2010 were Toyota, which finished 21st with 117 problems per 100 vehicles and Land Rover, which finished dead last with 170 problems per 100 vehicles. Dodge cars reported 130 problems per 100 vehicles, a fairly poor showing, but its Ram trucks reported a respectable 110 problems per 100 vehicles, just below the industry average.
[Source: Auto Observer]