Building Loyalty, Improving Service are Keys to Satisfaction in Germany’s Auto Market


Mark Lendrich

In light of a less-than-robust outlook for new-vehicle sales in Germany during the next few years, automakers and dealers need to focus on loyalty, awareness of crucial factors that influence the purchase decision, and they need to improve service business, according to our 2013 Germany Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study (VOSS), a collaborative effort with AUTO TEST, the magazine in Germany for readers planning to buy a new car.

In 2013, overall satisfaction among owners of one- to three-year-old vehicles in Germany averages 789 points (on a 1,000-point scale). In the 2013 study, vehicle appeal, which accounts for 27% of the index weight, and ownership costs (25%) are the two key drivers of overall satisfaction. The remaining two factors evaluated and their weights are: vehicle quality and reliability (24%); and service satisfaction (23%).

Volvo Inspires Enthusiasm among Loyal Owners

Germany01Among the 25 vehicle brands included in the study, the Swedish Volvo brand, now owned by China’s Geely Holding Group Co., ranks highest in vehicle ownership satisfaction with a score of 832. Following Volvo, in rank order, are: Toyota (816); Mercedes-Benz (810); Mazda (808); and Mitsubishi (807).

We see from study results that Volvo inspires enthusiasm among its loyal owners even in lackluster times, especially since the brand delivers on many of the purchase considerations that are most important to premium vehicle buyers in the German market.

Owners of premium brands, for instance, are more concerned about abstract concepts of ownership—such as safety, quality of workmanship, image, comfort and styling—compared with mass-market brand owners who are more concerned with the practical elements—getting a good deal and buying a new vehicle that is fuel efficient.

It’s interesting that these five highest-ranked brands benefit from higher loyalty and recommendation rates. Some 44% of vehicle owners of these brands say they “definitely will” purchase the same brand again, while only 30% of owners of brands with below-study average scores say they will repurchase from the same brand.

Similarly, more than one-half (52%) of vehicle owners of the five highest-ranked brands say they “definitely will” recommend their brand, but that drops to 39% with owners of brands with below-industry-average scores.

A few more findings from the 2013 Germany VOSS, which is based on 17,937 online evaluations by owners of one- to three-year-old vehicles in Germany:

Ownership Satisfaction at the Segment Level

12-toyota-aygo• In the segment rankings, Toyota achieves the highest scores in three of the eight award segments with its Aygo (City Car); Yaris (Small); and Prius (Compact).

• Other models ranking highest in their respective segments include the Honda CR-V (Compact SUV); Opel Meriva (Small MPV); Seat Altea (MPV); Volkswagen Passat CC (Mid-Size); and Volvo V70/XC70 (Large and Luxury).

Satisfaction Pays Off in Improved Service Revenue

• Dealers capture 76% of industry-wide service spend on vehicles that are between one and three years old, in contrast to aftermarket/non-dealer facilities, which get 24% of service spend.

• In the past 12 months, 65% of service visits for lube/oil changes, scheduled maintenance, and repairs were performed by authorized dealers.

In Germany, Internet Gaining Ground as Shopping Tool

• Some 70% of vehicle owners in Germany used the Internet to shop for a new vehicle in 2013.

• Premium-brand owners (73%) use the Internet for shopping slightly more often than do volume-brand owners (69%).

• Some 18% of premium-brand owners say that they used a smartphone or tablet app to shop. Some 22% of new-vehicle owners said they used a smartphone and 14% used a table to research new vehicles.

Mark Lendrich, senior research manager at J.D. Power Europe

For more details at the brand and model level, please read the press release.

Additional study results are published exclusively in the July issue of AUTO TEST, a publication in Axel Springer’s AUTO BILD group, which is now on sale.

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