Satisfaction among buyers of new vehicles in the US has fallen for a third straight year on the back of a record number of recalls, quality issues, and rising prices, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
The 2015 ACSI Automobiles Report shows industry-wide customer satisfaction in new vehicles has fallen 3.7 per cent this year to 79 points out of 100. It’s the lowest level of customer satisfaction since 2004, when a record number of recalls resulted in widespread owner dissatisfaction, though last year saw that record double with nearly 64 million vehicles recalled.
Fifteen of the 27 brands tracked by the ACSI lost ground in customer satisfaction compared with last year, while just two – Acura and BMW – took positive steps forward.
ACSI chairman and founder Claes Fornell said the downward trend for owner satisfaction in new vehicles was disturbing.
“While it is true that all cars are now much better than they were 10 to 20 years ago, it is alarming that so many of them have quality problems,” Fornell said.
“The number of recalls is at an all-time high. This should not happen with modern manufacturing technology and has negative consequences for driver safety, costs and customer satisfaction.”
ACSI director David VanAmburg said this year’s industry average was something of a levelling out after previous years of unusually high scores.
“Higher prices are clearly hurting car buyer satisfaction, but low prices also have artificially inflated satisfaction in the years prior,” VanAmburg said.
“The government’s Cash for Clunkers program helped push driver satisfaction to its highest level ever in 2009, and heavy discounting as the economy recovered kept satisfaction up for a while.
“The customer satisfaction levels the auto industry is seeing now are more consistent with historical ACSI data.”
The 2015 ACSI Automobile Report is based on interviews with 4294 customers chosen at random and asked to evaluate their recent purchase and experience with their vehicle.