Customer satisfaction with new-vehicle design and performance in India increases for a sixth consecutive year, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2013 India Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study released today.
Now in its 15th year, the study examines how gratifying a new vehicle is to own and drive, based on owner evaluations during the first two to six months of ownership. The study measures satisfaction across 10 performance categories: vehicle exterior; vehicle interior; storage and space; audio/ entertainment/ navigation; seats; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); driving dynamics; engine/ transmission; visibility and driving safety; and fuel economy. Overall APEAL performance is reported as an index score based on a 1,000-point scale, with a higher score indicating higher satisfaction.
The overall APEAL score averages 845 in 2013, which is a nine-point increase from 2012. The industry improves across all 10 categories, with the largest improvement posted in the audio/ entertainment/ navigation category, due to a higher percentage of vehicles being delivered with factory- or dealer-installed features such as USB connectivity for iPod/MP3 players, hands-free communication and steering wheel-mounted audio controls.
“Increasingly, vehicle owners want to improve the value of the time spent in their cars, and audio/ entertainment/ navigation features help them stay connected and entertained,” said Mohit Arora, executive director at J.D. Power Asia Pacific, Singapore. “Increased choice of branded accessories at a range of prices has also increasingly induced new-vehicle buyers to install such fitments at the time of delivery.”
During the past five years, the impact of vehicle exterior on overall satisfaction has increased, particularly in the midsize segment. Additionally, 13 percent of owners indicate that good vehicle styling was the main reason they selected the vehicle that they purchased in 2013, up from 8 percent in 2012.
The quality of vehicles has improved consistently during the past three years, and sensitivity towards vehicle breakdown has increased in India Although the proportion of customers experiencing a breakdown in their vehicle has remained at 4 percent since 2011, the gap in APEAL scores between customers who experience a breakdown and those who do not has increased to 44 points in 2013 from 23 points in 2011.
Among highly satisfied customers (overall satisfaction of 902 points or higher), 87 percent say they “definitely would” recommend their vehicle model to a friend or relative.
“The high recommendation rate among highly satisfied customers further emphasizes the importance of catering to customer needs and requirements,” said Arora. “While on one hand automakers are adding more features to their models, they also need to understand the customer value propositions for these features.”
Maruti Suzuki models rank highest in each of the compact segments: Maruti Suzuki Alto 800 (entry compact); Maruti Suzuki Estilo (compact); Maruti Suzuki Ritz (upper compact); and Maruti Suzuki Swift (premium compact).
Toyota models rank highest in the utility vehicle segments: Innova in the MUV/ MPV segment for a seventh consecutive year and Fortuner ranks highest in the SUV segment.
The Honda Amaze ranks highest in the entry midsize segment. The Hyundai Verna and Volkswagen Vento rank highest (in a tie) in the midsize segment. The Chevrolet Cruze ranks highest in the premium midsize segment. The 2013 India APEAL Study is based on responses from 9,069 owners who purchased a new vehicle between November 2012 and July 2013. The study was fielded between May and September 2013 in 25 cities across India.