Premium Brand Audio Systems Boost Satisfaction in Multimedia System Study

Mike VanNieuwkuyk

Satisfaction among new-vehicle owners who select a premium brand audio system is more than one point higher, on average, than among those owners who do not choose this option—8.4 points vs. 7.3 points on a 10-point scale—according to our 2012 U.S. Multimedia Quality and Satisfaction Study, which is based on responses from more than 74,000 new-vehicle owners who purchased or leased a 2012 model-year vehicle.

More than one-half of vehicle owners (53%) indicate they have a premium-branded audio system in their vehicle and nearly all of those owners (96%) want a premium-branded audio system again in their next vehicle. In addition to premium-branded audio systems, four other multimedia features or systems positively impact owner satisfaction by at least one-half point:

• Steering wheel controls for audio system

• Satellite radio

• Navigation system

• MP3-capable CD player

The positive impact of premium audio features and options on satisfaction demonstrates the desire for more advanced, functional and personalized media technologies. Yet, as overall customer interest in new media technologies grows, so do expectations that these technologies will be included in their next vehicle. This shift in expectations is evident in the top five features that most positively impact satisfaction. Continue reading ›

Japan Sales Satisfaction: Lexus and Volkswagen Rank Highest in Their Segments

Among luxury brands, Lexus ranks highest with a score of 720 points (on a 1,000-point scale) in the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2012 Japan Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) StudySM —35 points higher than the segment average (685). Lexus performs particularly well in three of the five factors* measured: sales system/process, facility and product exhibit . . . Continue Reading Japan Sales Satisfaction: Lexus and Volkswagen Rank Highest in Their Segments

Overall Sales Satisfaction Dips in Japan; Green Vehicle Customers Dissatisfied

Taku Kimoto

This year, fuel efficiency is the most frequently cited factor in choosing a new-vehicle, and is mentioned by nearly one-half (48%) of new-vehicle owners, in our 2012 Japan Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study. That’s up slightly from 46%, just four years ago. In 2008, the factors most often cited in choosing . . . Continue Reading Overall Sales Satisfaction Dips in Japan; Green Vehicle Customers Dissatisfied

Accurate Cost Estimates Advance After-Service Satisfaction in the Philippines

Mohit Arora

Overall customer satisfaction with service at authorized dealers in the Philippines has improved by 25 points to 821 (on a 1,000-point scale) compared with 2011, according to our 2012 Philippines Customer Service Index (CSI) Study, which is based on responses from 1,822 new-vehicle owners who took their vehicle for service to an authorized dealer service center for maintenance or repairs during the first 12 to 24 months of ownership.

Our study finds that providing accurate cost estimates and consistently meeting these estimates are key to creating high levels of customer satisfaction with dealer after-sales service. Satisfaction among vehicle owners who claim the actual costs were the same or less than the original estimate is 828, which is 23 points higher than among owners who say they received no estimate (805) and 82 points lower than those owners who said the actual costs were higher than the estimate (746).

Service customers are particularly sensitive about transparency of service—notably through accurate cost estimates and how well dealerships meet their initial commitments before the service begins. In 2012, 82% of customers received cost estimates—the lowest rate in the past 5 years. Continue reading ›

Study Finds Heavy-Duty Diesel Engine Emission Law Changes Increase Problems

Brent Gruber

The complex changes in engine technology to reduce emissions in heavy-duty truck powertrains to meet stricter 2010 regulations enacted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are creating more engine problems for heavy-duty commercial truck owners and also lowering overall powertrain satisfaction, according to our 2012 U.S. Heavy-Duty Truck Engine and Transmission Study.

Nearly one-half (46%) of the respondents in our study, who are the primary maintainers of one-model-year-old Class 8 heavy-duty trucks, experience some type of engine problem, up from 42% in 2011. In addition, the average number of engine- and fuel-related problems increases to 81 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) vs. 71 PP100 a year ago. Continue reading ›

North American Production Posts Double-Digit Year-to-Date Increase

Through the first seven months of 2012, North American light-vehicle production volume has climbed 23% (up by nearly 1.7 million units) from the same period in 2011, mainly due to major increases in production for Honda and Toyota Groups, post-recovery from setbacks related to the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011. Honda’s . . . Continue Reading North American Production Posts Double-Digit Year-to-Date Increase

U.S. Auto Sales Rise to 14.5 Million-Unit Pace in First Weeks of August

John Humphrey

Despite weak economic indicators and lower consumer confidence levels, the selling pace for new vehicles in August may rise to 14.5 million units, which would significantly outpace last August’s 12.1 million units, and would be the highest monthly pace in more than four and one-half years, according to the monthly sales forecast update from our Power Information Network® (PIN) division with insight from LMC Automotive.*

Based on analysis through the first 16 days of the month, retail new-vehicle sales are projected to reach 1.066 million units, which translates to a seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of 12.3 million units—up 18% from deliveries in August 2011. All comparisons are selling-day adjusted since August 2012 has one more selling day than August 2011.**

Total light-vehicle sales (retail and fleet) remain stable, with August sales volume expected to reach 1.285 million units, which is up 16% on a selling-day-adjusted basis from August 2011. Fleet sales likely will account for just 17% of total light-vehicle sales, down from the 21% year-to-date average. Continue reading ›

Social Media Insight: Learning Lessons from the Big Mac

Jeremy Detgen

McDonald’s Canada recently launched a very successful viral campaign consisting of several videos, according to a story in Advertising Age. One behind-the-scenes video has received over 6.9 million views on YouTube. The videos address concerns that customers have about the quality and healthiness of McDonald’s food. Customers have asked questions like “Why does it not look like it does in the picture?” These videos aim to answer basic questions in an effort to be more transparent and authentic.

Authenticity in any industry is essential when building a social media campaign. While this campaign was a great success, another campaign from McDonald’s USA attempted to promote authenticity and conversation through social media, with disastrous results. The USA campaign initiated conversations on Twitter, prompting customers to share their positive experiences. Although positive stories were the intent, numerous tweets with the campaign hashtag (#McDStories) were used to describe horrible experiences with McDonald’s.

Up and Down Lessons from a Fast Food Giant

So how can the auto industry learn from a fast food company? The most obvious lesson learned from this case study is that social media has great potential, but also presents a risk of losing control over what consumers might say. The Ad Age article Why McDonald’s Canada Social-Media Success Worked for the U.S. suggests that the Canadian campaign did not give people a chance to “trash” it by disabling comments on YouTube, whereas on Twitter, the conversation was completely open. It is valuable to allow comments, but a brand must understand that there may be some criticism and controversy. The key is to manage the conversation, not control it. Continue reading ›

Satisfaction with Vehicle Service in Malaysia Improves, Particularly at National Make Service Centers

Mohit Arora

New-vehicle owner satisfaction in Malaysia with service at authorized service centers for the country’s national makes—Perodua and Proton—increases from 2011 with implementation of higher service standards that include explanations of service work and physical inspection of the vehicle before and after service, according to our 2012 Malaysia Customer Service Index (CSI) Study.

Although gaps in service satisfaction still remain, these gaps are narrowing between national and non-national makes in Malaysia. While national makes still perform below industry average, there are remarkable improvements in performance due to a more systematic implementation of activities that have a high impact on customer satisfaction. Overall customer satisfaction in the 2012 Malaysia CSI Study averages 740 index points (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2012, an improvement of 22 points from 2011. Continue reading ›

Chevrolet Pushes Sales in Southeast Asia with Trailblazer, Sonic

General Motors’ Chevrolet brand has begun a major push to increase its small 2% market share in Southeast Asia with the introduction of the Trailblazer midsize SUV and Sonic sub-compact. Both models went on sale in Thailand in July, and will also be subsequently released across the region.

The Trailblazer, priced from US $34,000-$47,000, is offered with two engine choices: a 2.5-liter engine with output of 150 hp and a 2.8-liter engine producing 180 hp. Both versions are mated to a 6‐speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode. The Trailblazer will be facing stronger competition from models including the Toyota Fortuner and Isuzu Mu‐7. Continue reading ›