Seat Material Can Negatively Impact Owner Satisfaction


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


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


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 ›

Shoppers Consider More New Models as Reliability Concerns Fade

Jon Osborn

Vehicle initial quality and vehicle dependability have been improving across the industry during the past few years, according to our studies, which has led to new-vehicle shoppers considering a higher number of models before making their purchase decision, our 2013 Avoider Study finds. This study examines why consumers decide not to consider a certain model when shopping for a new vehicle.

On average, new-vehicle buyers actually shopped 3.3 models at the dealership in 2013, which is up from an average 2.9 just two years ago (in 2010). This average includes the purchaser’s selected model. In addition, 79% of shoppers cross-shopped the vehicle that they purchased compared with 74% in 2012 and 71% in 2009.

This year, only 17% of new-vehicle shoppers avoided a model based on its reputation of reliability, compared with 19% in 2012 and 21% just four years ago. Continue reading ›

Vehicle Interior is a Major Driver of New-Vehicle Satisfaction in India

Mohit Arora

Mohit Arora

Satisfaction with the vehicle interior has the greatest impact on how delighted and gratified India’s new-vehicle owners are with their new vehicle during the first two months of ownership, according to our 2012 India Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.

The study finds that during the past 4 years, the impact of the vehicle interior on overall satisfaction has increased consistently, especially in the two fastest-growing vehicle segments in India—small car (which includes entry compact, compact and premium compact cars) and utility (including MUV/MPVs, SUVs and vans). The vehicle interior factor has increased by 52 index points in comparison to performance in 2009.

Although visibility and driving safety followed by fuel economy continue to be the leading drivers of satisfaction among new-vehicle owners in India, we see that vehicle interior, among the 10 performance categories evaluated, is a major differentiator for customers when it comes to satisfaction with their vehicle, especially since they interact and spend the most time inside their vehicle. Continue reading ›

Domestic Brands Make Inroads in China New-Vehicle APEAL Study

Dr. Mei Songlin

Although international luxury brands—including Audi, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz—still achieve the highest scores in pleasing their new-vehicle owners, China’s domestic brands achieve a historic high in overall vehicle appeal, according to our 2012 China Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, which examines how gratifying a new vehicle is to own and drive during the first two to six months of ownership.

After making major advances in initial quality this year, China’s domestic brands continue to make strides to narrow the gap with all international brands and earn an average APEAL score of 781 points (on a 1,000-point scale) with significant improvements in two major areas: audio/entertainment/navigation and seats.

It’s noteworthy that the average score for all international brands drops to 839 points from 847 in 2011, due to lower satisfaction in the vehicle exterior and storage and space categories. This drop in the average APEAL score of international brands negatively impacted the overall industry APEAL average score, which slipped 3 points to 822 points from a record high of 825 points in 2011. Continue reading ›

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 ›

Two Suppliers Rank Highest in Seat Quality Rankings

Avanzar Interior Technologies, Ltd.—a U.S. joint venture between Johnson Controls and SAT Auto Technologies, Ltd.—and Japan’s TS Tech Co., Ltd. earn the highest quality rankings in the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study.SM

Both seat suppliers receive the lowest number of problems per 100 vehicles (PP100)— 3.3 PP100 in . . . Continue Reading Two Suppliers Rank Highest in Seat Quality Rankings

Buying a Smaller Vehicle Does Not Mean Sacrificing Seat Quality, Satisfaction

Mike VanNieuwkuyk

Owner satisfaction with vehicle seats is increasing, according to results in our 2012 U.S. Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study. In addition, seat satisfaction among compact and sub-compact vehicle owners averages 7.5 points on a 10-point scale, a significant improvement from owner satisfaction with smaller-vehicle seats 4 years ago in our 2008 study. This is noteworthy since market share for smaller vehicle models has grown to 35.4% of industry sales in the first 7 months of 2012* from 32.0% in 2008, and more than one-fourth (27%) of new-vehicle owners this year have replaced their current vehicle with a smaller 2012 model.**

Along with this year’s sales growth in compact and sub-compact model segments, the market penetration of seat features in these vehicles has also risen. Our study finds that market penetration in the compact and sub-compact vehicle segments for heated seats has increased by 16 percentage points, compared with the 2008 study, while leather seat penetration in these small vehicle models has increased by 10 percentage points. Memory seat penetration also is up by 3 points, and cooled/ventilated seats by 2 points. Continue reading ›