Satisfaction with Auto Insurance Providers Improves in Canada

Lubo Li

Although more than one in four (26%) auto insurance customers in Canada say their policy premium increased this year from last year, the overall national satisfaction index with providers improves by 13 points from 2010, to 740 on a 1,000-point scale, according to our 2011 Canadian Auto Insurance Study, which is based on responses from 11,286 auto insurance policyholders.

This year, a number of auto insurance companies in Canada were able to offset the negative impact of higher premium prices by providing proactive communications and by helping their customers explore options to reduce costs. We find that when insurance providers give advance notice to customers about premium increases and explain available options, satisfaction with price improves by more than 100 points, on average, in comparison to the satisfaction levels among customers who don’t receive advance notice.

At the same time, the percentage of customers who do receive advance notice about a premium increase and are told about coverage/discount possibilities, such as for multiple vehicles or bundled home and auto polices, remains low—only 16% on average. Continue reading ›

New-Vehicle Owners in Japan Less Satisfied with Hybrid Quality

Atsushi Kawahashi

Owners of new hybrid vehicles in Japan indicate that their “green” vehicles meet expectations about fuel economy, but also say they have problems with the design of their hybrid vehicle controls and displays, according to our 2011 Japan Initial Quality Study (IQS), which is based on responses from more than 8,700 new-vehicle buyers during the first 2 to 9 months of vehicle ownership. The 2011 Japan IQS identifies problems in two distinct categories—quality of design, and defects and malfunctions—as measured by the number of problems reported per 100 vehicles (PP100).*

In this year’s study, 13% of new-vehicle owners in Japan say they own a hybrid. In addition, among owners of midsize models, nearly 50% own hybrids. As expected, almost 40% of hybrid-vehicle owners say they “strongly agree” that fuel economy is the most important factor when choosing a vehicle, which is twice as high as the percentage of non-hybrid-vehicle owners that puts fuel economy at the top of their list.

However, hybrid-vehicle owners also say they experience more problems than non-hybrid owners in two of the nine initial quality categories measured— audio/entertainment/navigation and features/controls/displays. Many of these hybrid owners reported problems related to design flaws in controls and displays and also said that features/controls/displays were not user friendly. Since a significant percentage of hybrid-vehicle owners are middle-aged and older, it will be critical for manufacturers to develop features, controls and displays that owners across a wide age range can operate without problems. Continue reading ›

Crossovers Bolster US Light-Vehicle Sales Market This Year

Dave Cutting

Consumer demand for crossovers (CUVs) in the US market was especially strong during the first 8 months of 2011. In fact, nearly one of every four new vehicles purchased or leased this year was a CUV. Combined sales of all four CUV segments, including compact and midsize models, increased by nearly 326,400 units from sales in the same 8-month period a year ago. More than 2 million CUVs have been sold so far this year, representing nearly one-fourth (23.71%) of industry sales, which was up 1.78 percentage points from a 21.93% market share in the same period of 2010.

Compact CUVs, including mass-market and premium compact models, significantly outperformed the industry’s nearly 10% year-to-date sales gain from last year. Continue reading ›

Frankfurt Auto Show to Feature Green Innovation and Technology

Mike Omotoso

One of the more influential and oldest auto shows in the world is Germany’s Frankfurt International Motor Show, which started in 1897 with just 10 models on display in a Berlin hotel, and now showcases hundreds of automaker production and concept models in an Exhibition Center in Frankfurt am Main and is held every other year. This year’s show, which is the 64th event, features the theme, “Future Comes as Standard.” According to a number of media reports, automakers and exhibitors will be focusing on the elements of consumer technology and green innovation in their introductions and in their concepts.

Press days for the September 15-25 event in Europe begin tomorrow. Some highlights of several significant models and automakers to appear at the show include:

Toyota Extends its Prius Family in Europe and for the US Market

Toyota plans to sell the plug-in version of the Prius hybrid to retail customers in the US starting in early 2012. The Prius plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) will use a lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery and will have an all-electric range of 10 to 13 miles. The Prius PHEV can reach 60 mph on electric power only, Toyota claims. The hybrid battery for the Prius PHEV is supplied by Panasonic Electric Vehicle Energy, which is a joint venture company owned by Panasonic and Toyota. In the United States, the Prius PHEV is expected to be priced at about $4,000 more than the conventional Prius gasoline-electric hybrid. The version shown at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2011 had a 1.8-liter gasoline engine mated to a fuel-efficient continuously variable transmission (CVT). The hybrid battery in the Prius PHEV powers a 50-kW electric motor. Continue reading ›

India Needs Better Port Infrastructure to Expand Exports

India aims to become a major worldwide exporter of mini cars and sub-compact models. However, the country needs to improve its port infrastructure to fulfill this ambitious goal. Although there are 13 major ports in India, many of them are unable to handle an increase in capacity. In fact, India ranks 83rd (out of 139 nations) for the quality of its port infrastructure, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index 2010-2011.

Ammar Master

India’s government recognizes this bottleneck and has earmarked INR 50 billion (US $1.07 billion) worth of tax-free bonds for the development of major ports in the financial year ending March 2012. India’s Ministry of Shipping will bid on as many as 23 projects worth INR 170 billion (US $3.7 billion) this year.

In addition, the Ministry aims to create seven new ports by 2017, with a public and private investment of INR 350 billion (US $7.6 billion). Under India’s Maritime Agenda 2020, the goal is to increase capacity at India’s ports to three billion tons at an investment cost of INR 3 trillion (US$ 65 billion).

All of this looks very impressive on paper, but the important question is how quickly these plans will be translated into completed projects on the ground. In the past, such massive infrastructure projects have been overset with delays.

Perhaps, this is why Maruti Suzuki decided to make its own investment in a dedicated car-handling facility at Mundra Port in 2008, just before it started exporting its A-Star (sold as the Alto) to Europe. Similarly, Hyundai built a multi-level car park at the Chennai Port to enhance the capacity of its car terminal at that port. Continue reading ›

Ford Brand and F-Series Still Top-Volume Leaders

Ford remained the best-selling nameplate in August and also the nameplate with the best-selling model in the US market—the F-Series pickup. Ford captured 15.4% of industry sales in August, up from 14.26% a year ago. Brand sales rose 11.7% from August 2010—to 164,843 units.

Chevrolet continued to hold onto the second-highest brand share in . . . Continue Reading Ford Brand and F-Series Still Top-Volume Leaders

August Retail Sales Advance; Fleets Stronger than Expected

Dave Cutting

August light-vehicle retail sales in the US market were stronger than in the same month last year, however retail deliveries did decline from last month, according to analysis of Power Information Network® (PIN) retail transaction data. On a year-to-date basis, retail sales continued to provide the market’s strength with a 12.2% increase over last month. Fleet sales are up only 1.8% thus far this year.

Retail unit sales edged up 2.5% from August 2010, but were down 2.4% from July on a selling-day-adjusted basis. The retail seasonally adjusted annual selling pace (SAAR) was 9.6 million units last month, compared to 8.4 million units in August 2010. In addition, the retail sales pace was slightly ahead of the pace in July 2011, which was 9.5 million units. Fleet sales in August were 7.4% higher than a year ago—but averaged a 2.5 million-unit rate—which was still below the 2.99 million-unit pace in August 2010 and the 2.6 million-unit pace this year in July when selling-day adjusted.

Total car and light-truck (retail and fleet) sales in the US in August rose 3.4% from last year on a selling-day-adjusted basis.* (Unadjusted totals were up by nearly 8% from a year ago.) Total light-vehicle deliveries in August improved by a slight 1.2% from results in the previous month of July. Continue reading ›

New-Vehicle Buyers in India Engage Family, Friends in Purchase Experience

Mohit Arora

In India, nine out of 10 new-vehicle buyers shop with a family member or friend, which can make it more difficult to satisfy these buyers during the sales and purchase experience in comparison to buyers who shop alone for a new vehicle, according to our 2011 India Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study, which is based on responses from 6,840 new-vehicle owners. In addition, the study finds that new-vehicle buyers who are accompanied by family or friends are more apt to shop across brands and dealerships.

It’s evident that family members are trusted advisors throughout the purchase process for many new-vehicle buyers in India, and this is especially true when customers are buying their first new vehicle. These first-time new-vehicle buyers, who bring family members or friends to the dealership, tend to be more critical of the sales experience than are return buyers.

Among new-vehicle buyers who shop with family members, satisfaction with the sales experience averages 823 on a 1,000-point scale. If they shop with a friend, the satisfaction score drops even further—averaging just 807. However, buyers who visit the dealer alone are more satisfied—the satisfaction score averages 835. Continue reading ›

Fiat-Chrysler Group Gains Most Share Among 11 Corporations

Fiat-Chrysler Group posted the best year-over-year sales percentage gain among the 11 multi-franchise automakers in August—sales improved by 25.6%* from last year, according to J.D. Power’s Automotive Forecasting Division. Also, Chrysler’s Jeep brand posted one of the strongest year-over-year increases at the brand level, as Jeep sales climbed 51.9% from August 2010. For the . . . Continue Reading Fiat-Chrysler Group Gains Most Share Among 11 Corporations

Some Automakers Post Stronger-than-Expected US Sales in August

In spite of Hurricane Irene’s lingering effects on the East Coast, including power outages and flooding, and a continued slowing of the US economy, which has hurt consumer sentiment, August US light-vehicle sales totals from a number of automakers were slightly stronger than anticipated.

All three Detroit-based automakers posted sales increases from August of last year, which had one less selling day. Both General Motors (+13.5%) and Fiat-Chrysler Group (+25.6%) deliveries were up in double digits, and Ford Motor Co.’s sales improved in the high single digits (+6.9%).

GMC, Jeep, Lincoln Outpace Industry

GMC (+35.1%) was the sales leader in terms of percentage gains among General Motors’ core brands, and sales of the Chevrolet Cruze compact passed the 20,000-unit sales mark for a fifth consecutive month, which likely made it one of the 10 best sellers in the US market. Chrysler’s Jeep brand sales increased by nearly 52% from last year as the automaker’s brands were helped by a 90-day-postponed-payment incentive on some models. Ford Motor Company said both Ford Explorer and Fiesta deliveries were strong, while Lincoln brand deliveries were up in double digits (+19.8%) from a year ago. Ford F-Series totals slipped slightly on a selling-day-adjusted basis*, although more than 48,000 large Ford pickup trucks were delivered and 41% were equipped with the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, according to Ford. Continue reading ›