Seat Material Can Negatively Impact Owner Satisfaction

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Mike VanNieuwkuyk

The most commonly reported seat problem identified by new-vehicle buyers or lessees in the U.S. market after the first 90 days of ownership is that their vehicle seat material—fabric or leather— scuffs or soils easily, according to our 2013 Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study.

This soil/scuff problem averages 2.3 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), which is nearly twice the problem count average for the second-most-reported seat problem in our study—related to headrest adjustment (1.2 PP100). 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 ›

Redesigned U.S. APEAL Study: Engaging Vehicles Generate Enhanced Loyalty

David Sargent

David Sargent

When a new-vehicle buyer has a delightful experience owning and driving a new car or light truck, there are considerable positive connections and outcomes, such as faster sales at the dealership, higher transaction prices, and increased owner loyalty, according to our redesigned 2013 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.

The completely revamped 2013 APEAL Study, which measures how gratifying a new vehicle is for buyers or lessees to own and drive, has been conducted online this year to capture much more detail and provides better diagnostics to understand current key areas of excitement and disappointment among consumers.

The study’s online results further address key concerns to automakers and consumers around some important factors, including:

• new technologies such as infotainment systems

• safety and fuel economy features

• the design of the interior or cockpit

Details from the redone study also help automakers develop and design products that are more likely to appeal to future consumers. 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 ›

J.D. Power Expert Talks about Tires in Indian Market

MohitArora

Mohit Arora

Recently, Mohit Arora, executive director of J.D. Power Asia Pacific in Singapore, offered some insight, advice and tips on tire safety, cost efficiencies and ride comfort, based on J.D. Power tire customer satisfaction research in India. Some highlights from Mohit’s discussion related to analysis and research from the 2013 India Original Equipment Tire Customer Satisfaction Index (TCSI) Study are excerpted.

Arora begins by asking three key questions related to tires that customers in India should consider and then offers insight, tips and advice based on J.D. Power Asia Pacific tire studies and research.

Fuel Economy—Excessive fuel consumption has always been the top reported problem in our studies and will continue to be so in light of rising fuel costs. Does the average car owner in India know how to optimize fuel economy from their tires?

Importance of Tire Rotation—Some 40% of drivers report that they do not rotate their tires in an ownership period of 12 to 24 months. Tire rotation impacts fuel economy, tire durability and driving safety. Why is tire rotation important and at what frequency should it be done?

Run-Flat Tires—Nearly three-fourths of respondents say that run-flat tires are very important and express a need for them. Does the average driver actually know what run-flat tires are and why they are needed? 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 ›

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

MohitArora

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 ›

Will Asean Become Major Market for Parts Makers in India and China?

Ammar Photo

Ammar Master

The realization of the Asean Economic Community in 2015* presents opportunities and challenges in the changing automotive landscape of the Southeast Asian region.

Foremost, a successful Asean integration will support the long‐term goal of creating a region with free movement of goods, services, investment, and skilled labor, in addition to a freer flow of capital. This in turn is likely to lead to faster economic growth and an ever‐expanding middle class.

May Arthapan, director of Asia Pacific forecasting at LMC Automotive in Bangkok, indicated in an aptly titled recent presentation that Asean could well become “Another BRIC in the Wall,”** given the region’s emergence in Asia. Not only are there opportunities for vehicle makers to expand sales in a big way, but component makers also are going to benefit from increasing manufacturing activity in Asean countries, led by Thailand and Indonesia.

Japan’s Suppliers Have Long-Term Presence in Southeast Asia

Japan’s component makers have had a long-established presence in the Asean countries, and will clearly be the biggest beneficiaries. However, there are also opportunities for companies in India and China. These companies have been eyeing the Asean region as a new market for a while. This has been evident from increased participation, especially by companies in China, at Asean region trade shows.Yet, component makers from both nations have been wary to enter unfamiliar territory and face strong Japanese competition. Continue reading ›