Quiet Cars Influence OE Tire Satisfaction in Japan Market

Vehicle owners in Japan expect the tires that come with their vehicle from the factory to be perfect and without problems, according to our 2013 Japan Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Index Study. As vehicles become quieter, especially hybrids and electric vehicles, owners become more sensitive to noise and vibrations caused by their vehicle tires—a problem that is more prevalent than traction and handling issues.

The 2013 study, which examines problems that owners experience with their original equipment (OE) tires in the Japan market, finds that the two most frequently experienced problems owners have are pebbles or stones getting caught in the tire tread and road and vibration noise, which negatively affect ride, quietness and, ultimately, tire satisfaction. Continue reading ›

Shorter New-Vehicle Owners are Less Satisfied with their Seats

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Mike VanNieuwkuyk

Seat height and headrest adjustments can be especially troublesome to new-vehicle owners who are shorter than average height (under 5 feet 5 inches), according to our 2013 Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study*.

These shorter height owners experience nearly twice as many problems with their seat height adjustments than taller new-vehicle owners—1.2 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) vs. 0.7 PP100.

One-third of the shorter new-vehicle owners say seats do not adjust high enough. In addition, overall satisfaction with the driver seat among these shorter owners is significantly lower than among those who do not have a seat height adjustment problem. Continue reading ›

Power Seats with Manual Lumbar Support Hampers Seat Satisfaction

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Mike VanNieuwkuyk

Although a small percentage (less than 5%) of new vehicles are equipped with power seats that have manually adjustable lumbar support, new-vehicle owners with those seats experience more problems with the lumbar support adjustment than do owners of vehicles equipped with all-power seat controls, according to our 2013 Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study.

Problem incidence of power seats with a manual lumbar support averages 1.9 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) vs. just 0.4 PP100 for owners with all-power seat controls. Satisfaction among owners of vehicles equipped with power seats that have manual lumbar adjustments also is slightly lower on average—8.2 (on a 10-point scale)—compared with 8.4 for owners of fully powered seats.

Even those new-vehicle owners with all manual seat controls experience a lower average number of lumbar adjustment problems (1.1 PP100) compared with owners with power seats and manually adjustable lumbar support. However, overall satisfaction for owners with seats with all-manual seat controls is lowest (7.9 on a 10-point scale). Continue reading ›

Interest Grows for In-Vehicle Connectivity through Smartphones

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Mike VanNieuwkuyk

The level of purchase interest among vehicle owners with smartphones for device/application link technology to connect and integrate their smartphones with their vehicles infotainment systems continues to rise for very practical reasons, according to our 2013 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study.

Vehicle owners’ interest in connectivity and, in particular, the smartphone device/application link feature, is all about functionality. Research conducted by J.D. Power’s Consumer Insight and Strategy Group to track social media discussions about new technologies, including device/application link, suggests that consumers believe their in-vehicle infotainment systems lack the technology that their smartphones and tablets have.

Consumers also desire more mobile apps and want the capability to control their own software updates to integrate with their vehicle systems. Another interesting discovery from social media conversations on this topic is that consumers want their vehicle infotainment systems to be powered by their smartphone in order to avoid an additional monthly charge as well as to keep their technology up to date. Continue reading ›

Autonomous Driving Attracts Small Interest; Semi-Autonomous Features Prevail

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Mike VanNieuwkuyk

The concept of a self-driving system in a car, or what is termed autonomous driving mode, is no longer considered “outside the box” for vehicle owners. In fact, Google’s pilot self-driving vehicles are legal in Mountain View, CA, near Google headquarters. In addition to California, self-driving cars are also now legal in two other states: Nevada and Florida.

We see that awareness of this new technology is higher than a year ago. In spite of a $3,000 suggested market price, we see that “probable” and “definite” interest in equipping an owner’s next vehicle with this new technology is slightly higher, according to the results from our 2013 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study, than it was last year—21% vs. 20% in 2012.

Both “probable” and “definite” interest in having this emerging technology in an owner’s next vehicle rises to 39% before a market price is introduced.

Interest in some of the other “advanced” emerging technologies takes a back seat to autonomous driving mode when market pricing is introduced. For instance, the percentage of vehicle owners interested in having biometrics (including finger print car locks and stress level monitors for heart rate or blood pressure) in their next vehicle falls from 52% before a price is presented to just 20% after a market price of $350 is shown. Additionally, interest in customizable home screen technology that provides consumers options on information to be displayed on the vehicle’s center stack screen plummets from 72% to just 17% when a $1,250 market price is provided. Continue reading ›

Fuel Efficiency Features are Most Popular New Technologies

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Mike VanNieuwkuyk

Although U.S. drivers may see a drop in the average price of gas at the pump in the next few months vs. the same time frame a year ago*, new-vehicle owners have fuel economy on their minds when it comes to their interest in advanced features and emerging technologies to consider when they purchase their next vehicle, according to our 2013 U.S. Automotive Emerging Technologies Study.

Two of 22 features evaluated in the study with the highest percentages of vehicle owners who “definitely would” and “probably would” want a certain feature enhance fuel economy. Higher interest among owners this year may be because these technologies are already available in many non-premium vehicles; they are lower-priced than some technologies and owners are already familiar with them.

Energy Feature: Highest Interest among 22 Emerging Technologies

The fuel economy indicator feature has the highest overall interest before a suggested price is provided (79%) and also after an estimated market price of $50 is introduced (72%). In addition, the percentage of vehicle owners who “definitely would” want the feature in their next vehicle actually edges up from 28% to 30% after a price is revealed. Also, as expected, non-premium brand vehicle owners are even more interested in this feature than are premium vehicle owners. Continue reading ›

Owners Report Fewer OE Tire Problems; Run-Flat Tire Satisfaction Dips

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Brent Gruber

Although customers cite fewer problems with their original equipment (OE) tires for a fourth consecutive year, satisfaction is lower among customers whose vehicles are equipped with run-flat tires, according to our 2013 U.S. Original Equipment Tire Satisfaction Study.SM

A major reason that automakers are equipping vehicles—mainly luxury and performance sports segment vehicles—with run-flat tires and low-rolling resistance tires is that they are trying to find ways to meet tougher Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards. One way to improve fuel efficiency is to equip vehicles with these run-flat tires instead of supplying a spare, or by using low-rolling resistance tires.

In our latest study findings, which are based on responses from more than 30,835 new-vehicle owners after two years of their ownership experience, customers with run-flat tires are much more likely to replace their tires as are customers with standard tires. Nearly one-third (31%) of customers whose vehicles are equipped with run-flat tires have needed to replace at least one tire in comparison to only 19% of those customers whose vehicles are equipped with standard tires. Continue reading ›

J.D. Power Asia Pacific Expert Considers Aftermarket Drivers in India

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Mohit Arora

Earlier this year, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) served notice to 17 automakers in the country for what the Commission termed to be anti-competitive practices. The charge was that these automakers hold restrictive control on the sales of spare parts to their authorized service networks which, in turn, means high prices to consumers. Mohit Arora, executive director of J.D. Power Asia Pacific, addressed the current situation in an article that was published in Japan’s Nikkan Jidosha Shinmbun (Daily Automotive News) recently. The article, “Drivers of a Vibrant Aftermarket in India,” is excerpted:

“Under India’s CCI ruling, the 17 carmakers will be forced to supply parts in the open market and may have to limit sales to their own dealerships. There are key questions that the industry must face if this ruling holds.

• If this happens, would the authorized networks in the Indian automotive industry be ready to embrace a deregulated aftermarket industry akin to mature markets like the United States, Europe and Thailand?

• Can the two networks survive alongside each other profitably?

• How is consumer behavior likely to change once a reasonable aftermarket option is available to them? Continue reading ›