Auto Policyholders Who Use Online Interaction Tend to be More Satisfied

Jeremy Bowler

Overall, satisfaction among auto insurance policyholders with their providers improves dramatically from 2010, averaging 790 (on a 1,000-point scale), which is up from 777 in 2010, according to results from our 2011 U.S. National Auto Insurance Study.

This increase in satisfaction is the result of advances across all five factors* measured, but especially for two of the factors: billing and payment and interaction, the factor that receives the greatest weight in our overall index. One of the most interesting trends we find this year is that a majority (more than 80%) of customers who interact with their insurer through the company’s website were able to complete their entire interaction online. Continue reading ›

Satisfaction Improves the Most among Unbundled Auto Insurance Customers

Jeremy Bowler

For the first time, satisfaction with price is higher among unbundled auto insurance customers than among those customers who have more than one policy with the same provider, according to results in our 2011 U.S. National Auto Insurance Study, which is based on responses from nearly 28,000 auto insurance policyholders.

The overall industry satisfaction index for auto insurance customers who have their homeowners policy with another insurer, or who only have an auto policy, has increased considerably from 2010—up 21 and 26 index points, respectively, on a 1,000-point scale. In contrast, the average index among auto insurance customers who have their homeowners policy with the same insurer increases by just 7 points from 2010. Continue reading ›

Challenges Remain for India’s Hungry Auto Market

Tim Dunne

While significant progress has been made in developing India’s automotive industry, there are a few high hurdles to clear. Government, business and academic officials regularly refer to the country’s “three deficits” as reasons for caution about future growth: continual international trade deficits; chronic government budget deficits; and an underdeveloped power generation and distribution infrastructure. These deficits are discussed and mentioned in interviews with industry executives for our recently published special report, “India Automotive 2020: The Next Giant from Asia.” Continue reading ›

Pickups, Compacts Boost US Sales in First Half of June

Jeff Schuster

During the first half of June, retail new-vehicle sales have been bolstered by a mix of large pickup and compact car sales, based on our Power Information Network® (PIN) retail transaction data. In the first 16 selling days of the month, large pickups accounted for 10.6% of retail sales—the highest level since February—while compact cars comprised 17.6% of retail sales, which is up slightly from a 17.2% compact car retail share in May.

Our latest sales update indicates that June retail new-vehicle sales will climb 14% from a year ago to 884,800 units, which is equal to a seasonally adjusted rate (SAAR) of 9.9 million units. This sales rate is considerably ahead of last June’s 8.4 million-unit pace and an improvement from May’s 9.3-million-unit level. However, we expect fleet sales to decline 9% from last year to 221,600 units. On a selling-day-adjusted basis,* total light-vehicle sales (retail and fleet) in June are projected to increase 8%, to 1.106 million units from 981,429 unit sales in June 2010. Continue reading ›

Vehicle Software and Technology Challenges Need to be Addressed

David Sargent

Software and technology challenges have been setbacks for vehicle initial quality this year, particularly in relation to new-vehicle buyer and lessee evaluations of launch models (those that are all-new or have had major redesigns) after the first 90 days of ownership, according to the 2011 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS). Analysis of study data finds that the decline in vehicle launch quality is particularly noticeable in two of eight areas*: engine/transmission and audio/entertainment/navigation. Continue reading ›

Honda Receives Most Model-Level Initial Quality Awards in 2011

Jon Sundberg

Honda captures a total of seven model-level initial quality awards—the most of any brand this year, and the most for the Japanese automaker in any given year—according to results of the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 U.S. Initial Quality StudySM (IQS). Lexus, which receives four model-level awards, is also the brand with the highest-performing model in the industry—the LS. Chevrolet, Ford and Mercedes-Benz receive two awards each, while Cadillac, Chrysler, Dodge and Mazda each receive one award. Continue reading ›

Initial Quality of Carryover Models Better than Ever

Overall initial quality of new cars and light trucks in the United States has improved from 2010, averaging just 107 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) vs. 109 PP100 in 2010 (a lower PP100 score equates to higher quality). However, there is a 10% decline in the initial quality of launch models—those that are all-new or have had a major redesign—compared with 2010, based on results from our 2011 U.S. Initial Quality Study (IQS). Our IQS is based on responses from more than 73,000 purchasers or lessees of new 2011 model-year vehicles and asks about problems experienced during the first 90 days of ownership.

David Sargent

Data from the study indicates that the average PP100 score for launch models in 2011 jumps to 122 PP100, up from 111 PP100 in 2010 (initial quality of launch models had improved every year from 2007 to 2010). Conversely, carryover models—those not receiving significant updates for the 2011 model year—have better initial quality than ever before.

Of 42 all-new or redesigned light-vehicle models that are rank-eligible in the 2011 IQS, only seven rank among the top three in their respective award segment. The seven include the following: Acura TSX (Total), Chevrolet Camaro (Total), Dodge Durango, Honda Odyssey, Hyundai Equus, Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe/Convertible (Total), and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan/Wagon (Total). In 2010, 17 all-new or redesigned models ranked among the top three of their respective award segment. Only one launch model, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe/Convertible (Total), receives a segment award (vs. five launch models in 2010). Continue reading ›

Vehicle Owners in Germany Less Satisfied; Mercedes Models Earn Most Segment-Level Awards

It’s been two years since the scrappage program was eliminated in the German auto market and satisfaction among owners of two-year-old vehicles in that country has slipped to an average of 807 (on a 1,000-point scale) this year from 813 in 2010, according to our 2011 Germany Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study (VOSS), which we conduct jointly with German auto magazine AUTO TEST.

Brian Walters

Among the four factors* measured in the study, only ownership costs has improved slightly. A 9-point fall in the vehicle quality and reliability factor is primarily due to a significant increase in reported problems—the rate of problems reported increased by 12 problems per 100 vehicles (PP 100) from 2010, mainly in the areas of vehicle exterior; heating; ventilation; and air conditioning.

On an encouraging note, we find that vehicle owners in Germany who say they are “delighted” with their dealer service experience are nearly 2.5 times as likely to return to the dealership for paid service work vs. less satisfied customers. Yet, there is a wide variance in service levels delivered by different brands. Continue reading ›

Ease of Navigation a Requisite to Automotive Website Satisfaction in Canada

Ryan Robinson

New-vehicle shoppers in Canada who use build-your-own-vehicle tools when they conduct research at auto manufacturer websites are seeking more detailed configuration options, such as a wider array of accessories and trim packages from which to choose, according to our 2011 Canadian Manufacturer Website Evaluation Study (MWES). Yet, many shoppers indicate that the navigation elements within the build tools are confusing.

Proper placement of “next step” buttons, simple outlines of the steps, and tiered menus with optimal details are especially useful to allow these users to filter out unwanted detail, according to our study, which is based on evaluations from 2,555 new-vehicle shoppers in Canada who plan to look for a new vehicle within the next 12 months. Continue reading ›

May Captive Penetration Dips; Lower Interest Rates Prevail

Grace Hamulic

Slightly more than two-thirds (67.4%) of new-vehicle transactions for all brands in May were financed through automaker captive finance arms—which was down more than 3 percentage points from 70.5% of new-vehicle deals in May 2010, according to our Power Information Network® (PIN) retail transaction data. In addition, a much higher percentage of new-vehicle buyers or lessees received APRs below 5% this year vs. the same month last year, up to 73.7% from 67.4%.

In light of the current inventory shortage of vehicles related to the effects of the earthquake and tsunami on production in Japan, we’re starting to see its impact on trade-ins. Compared with a year ago, the percentage of buyers and lessees with a trade-in on a new vehicle who have negative equity has declined to 21.8% from 24.5%. In addition, more than one-half (51%) of new-vehicle deals in May included a trade-in, which is up from 47.4% of transactions a year ago. Continue reading ›