Premium-vehicle owners generally have higher intended loyalty than volume-brand buyers, but they also put a higher importance on a problem-free ownership experience.
The J.D. Power 2017 U.K. Vehicle Dependability Study, now in its third year, measures problems experienced during the previous 12 months by original owners of vehicles in the U.K. after 12-36 months of ownership.
The results are based on responses from more than 12,000 owners of new vehicles registered from February 2014 through April 2016. The study was carried out from February through April this year.
It looks at 177 problem symptoms across eight categories: vehicle exterior; driving experience; features/controls/displays; audio/communication/entertainment/navigation; seats; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; vehicle interior; and engine and transmission.
Overall dependability is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100), with a lower score reflecting higher quality.
Kia and Volvo tie for No.1 in vehicle dependability among all brands, with a score of 83 PP100. Skoda ranks third with 89 PP100, followed by Suzuki with 92 PP100.
Among premium owners experiencing no problems with their vehicle, 58% say they “definitely will” buy or lease the same brand again. This number declines to 48% among premium owners experiencing one or more problems.
Volume owners experience a steep decline in intended loyalty on experiencing the first problem – to 40% from 49% – and loyalty steadily declines from there as the number of problems experienced increases.
J.D. Power Europe head of research Mark Lendrich says minor issues such as foggy windows, noisy brakes or navigation systems that are difficult to use can be frustrating for owners and can damage brand loyalty.
“These design problems aren’t easy to fix at a service appointment and, if the owner has to live with these problems for the duration of time they have the vehicle, they’re less likely to purchase the same brand in the future,” Lendrich says in a statement.
Among the reasons for purchasing, more owners cite fuel efficiency (50%) than any other reason, making this an important area for automakers. Satisfaction with fuel economy is relatively low among owners of premium and volume vehicles alike. It is the category of lowest satisfaction among premium customers.
Some 31% indicate exterior styling was a key reason for the purchase of their vehicle. Satisfaction with the exterior among premium owners is 805 points on a 1,000-point scale, compared with 759 among volume owners.
Technology problems continue to be common among owners after three years. Bluetooth phone/device frequent pairing/connectivity issues (3.0 PP100) and voice recognition not recognizing commands (2.2 PP100) are among the six most common problems in the U.K.