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Lexus still UK’s most satisfying

Improvement: Models like the MiTo have helped Alfa Romeo exceed expectations in the latest JD power survey, taking it up to Toyota and VW.

Brits vote Lexus number one for customer satisfaction again as Alfa ties with Toyota

General News logo3 Jun 2011

LEXUS has been credited with delivering the highest level of automotive customer satisfaction in the UK for the 11th time in as many years, according to the 2011 JD Power and Associates Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study.

Scoring 845 out of a possible 1000 points, Lexus soared above the sales-weighted industry average of 794, but Honda closed the gap by scoring 833 points compared with last year when Lexus was a clear 21 points ahead of its nearest competitor.

The Japanese luxury brand’s IS model topped the compact executive car category, its 854 points making it the highest scoring individual model in the survey - above Honda’s Swindon-built Accord, which scored 852 to become top upper-medium car.

To put those results into perspective, the next-highest scoring model in the survey was the Toyota Prius with 839 points. The Lexus IS, however, was not able to match its RX SUV sibling’s score from last year’s survey, in which it scored a whopping 867 points out of 1000.

In contrast to Lexus again taking the top spot of the 27 brands included, the biggest surprise was Alfa Romeo – not historically a brand noted for its customer satisfaction – scoring 805 points to rank equal ninth with Toyota and Volkswagen.

 center imageFrom top: Lexus IS350, Skoda Octavia, Citroen C4 Picasso, Toyota Aygo.

It was the first time in years that Alfa Romeo had made it into the top 27 brands, because in the past too few Alfa owners had responded to the survey.

Neither Alfa nor VW had any products in the top three of any segment but Toyota’s Aygo came first in the city-car category, while the Prius hybrid was the second-placed upper-medium car.

Jaguar and Skoda shared third place with 825 points each, the latter leapfrogging Toyota and Mercedes-Benz compared with last year’s sixth ranking. Skoda’s Octavia topped the lower-medium car segment while the Fabia took third place in the small car category.

The JD Power survey is based on data gathered from more than 16,840 British new-car owners after an average of two years’ ownership, and based on 66 attributes including vehicle appeal, quality and reliability, cost of ownership and dealer service.

The results recorded an overall improvement in the levels of customer satisfaction – especially in terms of dealer service – compared with last year’s figures, despite the difficult times facing manufacturers, dealers and customers during the UK’s slow economy and increased expectations from an increasingly critical buying public.

Alfa Romeo’s success came in part from a high score of 824 - ranking it seventh, just one point behind sixth-placed Audi – in the vehicle appeal category, which takes into account performance, design, comfort and features.

General Motors brands Chevrolet and Vauxhall scored just 766 and 763 points respectively - well below the industry average and sinking them to the bottom of the table, separated by Suzuki, which managed to score just one more point than Vauxhall.

French brands also occupied the lower half of the table, Citroen tying with Ford on 790 points, boosted by a one-two win in the MPV sector from its C3 Picasso and C4 Grand Picasso models. PSA sister brand Peugeot, however, neighboured Chevrolet to be the fourth-worst brand with 771.

South Korean budget-brand-on-the-up Hyundai scraped in just below the industry average with 792 points, despite its i10 and i30 respectively occupying the top three in the city-car and lower-medium car segments.

Mazda, which topped both the first and most recent Australian equivalents of the survey in 2008 and 2009 – and again in 2010 when the survey focussed only on dealer service – came 12th in the British results with 799 points, exceeding the industry average by five points.

Honda’s second placing was consistent in both the Australian and UK markets, although it placed third (after Toyota) in the 2010 dealer service survey.

JD Power’s senior director of European automotive operations Brian Walters said: “It is particularly encouraging that satisfaction with ownership costs has improved during a year that has witnessed record fuel costs, increased insurance premiums and greater competitive price pressure for dealerships.

“In many respects, this indicates that auto-makers have been able to protect their customers from direct internal cost pressures.

“While the new-vehicle market in the UK is expected to contract further during the next several years, the number of models in the market is expected to increase,” he said.

“In 2008, buyers in the UK had approximately 250 models to choose from. This is expected to grow to more than 340 in 2015. As customer choice expands, so does switching behaviour in the market.

“Therefore, it is paramount for brands to provide a compelling case for the shrinking pool of customers to stay with their products and services in the future.”

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