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Despite Ongoing Quality Issues, Tesla Owners Bond with Their Cars

“Owners see themselves as pioneers.”

by on Mar.21, 2017

Despite endemic quality problems, Power finds strong emotional attachment to Tesla products.

Tesla owners could be accused of having a love/hate relationship with their vehicles. The maker’s Models S and X have repeatedly been slammed for serious quality issues, yet owners retain a strong emotional bond to those battery-electric vehicles, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.

But the question is whether those buying the next generation of Tesla products, starting with the Model 3 sedan set to go into production in July, will be nearly as forgiving. Moving into the mainstream carries significant risks, according to various analysts.

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“Tesla owners see themselves as pioneers who enjoy being early adopters of new technology,” said Kathleen Rizk, director of global automotive consulting at J.D. Power. “Spending $100,000 or more on a vehicle that has so many problems usually would have a dramatically negative effect on sales and brand perception. Right now, though, Tesla seems immune from such disenchanted customers.”


Safety Features Resonate with American Motorists in New Tech Choice Study

US car shoppers uninterested in fuel-saving features.

by on Apr.22, 2015

Consumers are demanding new collision avoidance technologies, according to new Power study.

Today’s new cars are likely to feature more digital technology than you’ll find in the typical home or office – including infotainment systems that can tap into the apps on an Apple or Google smartphone.

But forget about Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. What consumers want most are safety-related technologies such as blind spot detection and forward-collision mitigation – which account for seven of the Top 10 technologies car buyers say they want most, according to the first J.D. Power U.S. Tech Choice Study. Among the Top Five picks, self-healing paint was the only non-safety-related technology.

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“Collision protection ranked above average,” said study director Kristin Kolodge, with “the vast majority” of the more than 5,000 U.S. motorists who participated in the Tech Choice Study. Significantly, she said this was not limited to any narrow segment of buyer. “There is a tremendous interest in collision protection technologies across all generations.”


Lexus Leads Industry In Vehicle Dependability, Finds New JD Power Study

But automakers, overall, face problems with balky, high-tech infotainment systems.

by on Feb.25, 2015

Lexus was the top-ranked brand, while the Lexus GX was tops in its Midsize Premium segment.

For the fourth consecutive year, Lexus leads the industry in terms of longer-term vehicle reliability, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.

But Detroit brands, notably General Motors’ Buick, also managed to crack the industry’s Top 10 in Power’s 2015 Vehicle Dependability Study, or VDS. The downside is that automakers, on the whole, are facing increased problems with their Bluetooth, navigation and other high-tech systems – often because of designed-in issues.

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Manufacturers can win over buyers with the latest technology, but lose them when those systems don’t work, said Renee Stephens, Powers’ vice president of U.S. automotive research. “Owners,” she added, “view in-vehicle technology issues as significant problems, and they typically don’t go away after the ownership honeymoon period is over.”


Lexus Tops New JD Power Customer Service Study

GMC surges into lead among mass market brands.

by on Mar.13, 2013

Lexus vehicles like the GS sedan once again dominated the Power measure of dealer service.

Sure, those car dealers are easy to poke fun at. But a new study suggests American motorists are more than happy, on the whole, with the service they’re delivering.

For the fifth year in a row, Lexus led the closely watched J.D. Power Customer Service Index, a measure of how well are meeting owners’ expectations for performance at their repair shops. Detroit-based GMC, meanwhile, jumped into the lead among mass-market brands, according to the market research firm.

The annual CSI found that customers are becoming increasingly satisfied by dealer service in general, especially with the service they get from factory-approved retailers as compared with independent facilities.

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“Manufacturers have made large investments in their retail programs, and dealers have made significant investments in key customer touch-points—people, improved processes and customer waiting areas—which are having a profoundly positive impact on their customers,” said Chris Sutton, the JDPA senior director in charge of the 2013 survey.


February Sales Looking “Positive,” but Buyers Paying More

Transaction prices up $1,000 since last year.

by on Feb.25, 2013

Strong demand is leading makers to ramp up production for vehicles like the Jeep Grand Cherokee.

February vehicle sales are heading for another solid month despite headwinds such as economic turbulence created by gridlock in Washington D.C. and a spike in gasoline prices, according to those who track trends on the showroom floor.

The surge in demand is coming despite an ongoing cutback in incentives by automotive manufacturers. In fact, buyers are spending significantly more to drove off the dealer lot than they did just a year ago, industry watchers report.

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“All signs of the industry’s health are positive right now,” said John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at J.D. Power and Associates, or JDPA. “Average transaction prices are up, incentives are stable, leasing is at a healthy level and newly redesigned models continue to make an impact on the marketplace.”


Nissan Hires Consumer Reports’ Top Auto Tester

Resume gets “Recommended” rating from #2 Japanese maker.

by on Aug.23, 2012

Former Consumer Reports chief auto tester David Champion returns to Nissan.

There’s little doubt automakers take Consumer Reports magazine quite seriously.  Seriously enough, in fact, that Nissan has hired David Champion, the non-profit organization’s top automotive tester.

In his newly created post as executive advisor for competitive assessment and quality, the 57-year-old Champion should be able to assist the Japanese maker in getting a better handle on both what consumers like and what they’re likely to complain about.

“David Champion’s unique industry background will help ensure that the customer’s voice is evident in every product we engineer,” said Carla Bailo, Nissan’s senior vice president, research and development, whom Champion will now work with.

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“His experience in developing robust testing methods will help Nissan keep pace with the increasing complexity of our products and stay focused on continually improving our customer satisfaction ratings,” she added.


July Sales Look to be Strong

Chugging along despite a weak economy.

by on Jul.27, 2012

Honda regains lost ground with the 2012 CR-V.

Despite fears of an economic slowdown, sales of new vehicles continue to chug along.

July’s new-vehicle retail sales are expected to post the second strongest year-over-year growth rate of the past 12 months, according to a monthly sales forecast developed by J.D. Power and Associates’ Power Information Network and LMC Automotive.

Nonetheless there are signs of a potential slowdown in sales in the coming months. The supply of used vehicles is creeping higher and used car prices are slipping, indicating fewer buyers are out kicking tires these days, noted analyst Art Spinella of CNW Marketing.

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But July new-vehicle retail sales are projected to come in at 969,200 units, J.D.Power noted in its forecast for July. And that would suggest that the auto industry is defying the slowdown that has gripped much of the rest of the economy.

“Retail sales got off to a fast start in July, and while they’ve slowed down a bit as the month has progressed, through the first 16 selling days, they’re still up 15.1%, compared to July 2011,” said John Humphrey, J.D. Power senior vice president of global automotive operations


Downsizing Doesn’t Mean Downgrading, Says J.D. Power’s New APEAL Study

“Better vehicles than we’ve ever seen.”

by on Jul.25, 2012

Chevy wins three awards for products including the Sonic and the Volt, shown here.

American motorists no longer need worry about what they’ll have to sacrifice trading in a larger vehicle for a smaller one.  A new study by J.D. Power and Associates finds that, “across the board,” manufacturers are offering small car buyers the sort of features and amenities they might not even have found in larger vehicles of a decade ago.

And from the most basic transportation all the way to the most expensive and exotic, the industry is delivering far more than ever before, according to Power’s annual APEAL study, which looks at automotive performance, execution and layout.

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“Automakers are designing better cars than we’ve ever seen,” said Dave Sargent, Power’s director of global automotive operations. “It’s not just one or two manufacturers.  It’s across the board, which means that for consumers it’s a great time to be in the car market.”


Luxury Buyers Like the Idea of Autonomous Driving

JD Power Study finds motorists willing to spend for advanced technology features.

by on Apr.26, 2012

They're still the stuff of science fiction but development work on autonomous vehicles is proceeding fast.

After a late evening that included a few too many drinks the last thing you’re looking for is driving to work on a Monday morning.  No problem.  Just plug in your destination, close your eyes and let your autonomous vehicle drive to the office for you.

What has long been a science fiction fantasy is rapidly coming closer to reality – and a new study by J.D. Power and Associates finds many motorists – especially luxury buyers – intrigued by the prospect of buying an autonomous vehicle.

Perhaps that’s no surprise.  In general, American car buyers are more and more interested in investing in the latest automotive technologies, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.

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While vehicle owners remain very interested in technologies that make their vehicle safer, they are turning their attention more and more toward features and technologies that allow them to be productive, connected and entertained while in their vehicles,” said Mike VanNieuwkuyk, Power’s executive director of global automotive.


Lexus, Mini Top Brands for Customer Satisfaction with Dealer Service

Study finds dealers ranked above independent service shops.

by on Mar.14, 2012

Lexus topped the J.D. Power Customer Service chart for a fourth consecutive year.

For the fourth year in a row, Lexus has topped the charts as the brand delivering the highest level of customer satisfaction when it comes to dealer service.  Among mainstream brands, Mini led the list for the second consecutive year, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.

The annual Customer Service Index, or CSI, found that overall satisfaction with dealer service has improved substantially over the last year, perhaps reflecting efforts by automakers to build brand loyalty.  Significantly, survey respondents revealed they are generally more pleased with the service they get at the dealer than with work done by independent repair shops.

“Steady improvements in vehicle quality, longer intervals between recommended service visits and a higher mix of maintenance service events have had a positive effect on overall dealer service satisfaction,” said Chris Sutton, senior director at J.D. Power and Associates.

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“Moreover,” Sutton added, “manufacturers and their dealers have instituted broad-based customer service improvement initiatives to increase satisfaction with both the purchase experience and after-sales service, with the understanding that a substandard service occasion can and will impact their ability to make a future vehicle sale or gain repeat service business.”