US automakers fall further behind foreign brands
The satisfaction gap between the Big 3 and overseas manufacturers has widened, with domestic cars lagging imports.
For the first time since 2010, Americans are less satisfied with the cars and trucks they're driving, according to the 2013 American Consumer Satisfaction Index.
The latest (ACSI) also finds the satisfaction gap between the Big 3 -- Ford (F), General Motors (GM), and Chrysler -- and foreign automakers has widened with domestic brands falling further behind import brands.
David VanAmburg, Director of the ACSI said the drop in scores should be a concern for the Big 3, "This could become problematic once demand slackens, making further sales growth more challenging unless customer satisfaction improves."
Overall, satisfaction with 20 different auto brands fell 1.2% to a score of 83 on a 0 to 100 scale. ACSI researchers believe customer satisfaction is slipping in part because vehicle reliability may be suffering as automakers ramp up production.
Highest- and lowest-ranked brands
As is often the case with buyer satisfaction surveys in the auto industry, import brands outpaced the Big 3 in the latest ACSI.
Among the list of highest- and lowest-ranked auto brands, two in particular stand out. Mercedes' satisfaction score increased 4% to put the German brand in first place, while Chevy fell 6% to drop to the bottom of the list.
The ACSI did not show the Tesla (TSLA) brand among the 20 auto brands in the survey.
Big 3 falling behind
For GM, Ford and Chrysler, the latest ACSI report raises questions about why domestic brands are slipping again. Five of the eight U.S. brands fell in the latest survey.
Just five years ago, the Big 3 and the Asian auto brands were in a virtual tie when it came to customer satisfaction. That's no longer the case.
So what's wrong?
VanAmburg said the domestics may be losing focus as they add more shifts and run their plants at capacity.
"U.S. automakers may be stretched too thin, ramping up production to meet rising demand," he said. "Quality may be giving way to quantity."
Luxury brands leading the way
With luxury auto sales growing faster than overall sales in the U.S., American car buyers are also finding greater satisfaction with upscale brands.
Luxury brands ranked at or above the industry average of 83 includes Mercedes, Lexus, Cadillac and Acura.
BMW, with an ACSI score of 82, is the lone luxury brand ranked below the industry average.
The ACSI was calculated after more than 4,000 consumers were surveyed in April and May.
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I bought a 2012 Chevy Cruze because it was a very popular car and selling well. I bought the LT Trim (middle of the line). I drove it, and found it had a good ride and everything for $21,000.
Did I get the mileage Chevrolet claimed for the Cruze (28-36) for the non-eco version? BARELY. If I tried hard, I could manage to average 31 MPG on a tank of gas. With the dinky little turbo engine.
At 600 miles on the odometer, the car started having rattles and vibration noises throughout the dash/console. The Chevy dealer? Couldn't fix it. It was a "known problem" that was reported on a lot of Cruze's. You got lucky or you didn't. Why did it develop? Cheaply built interiors.
At 1200 miles, I had a recall to remove the engine plate protector that could cause a fire if oil were to drip. Doing so increased the road noise.
Around 2000 miles, the windshield wipers had to be replaced because they were falling apart
At 2500 miles, the brake line started squeaking everytime I pressed the brake, you could hear squeak noises.
At 3000 miles the front wheels started showing rust on the rims.
At 8800 miles, I traded in the car (at a loss) and bought a Subaru Forrester. I average 28-30 MPG driving/commuting and 35 MPG on the highway (nearly matches the Cruze but is has a 2.4L 4 cylinder engine (versus a 1.4L), and is a MiniSUV that weighs about 2x as much as the Cruze). I have 3200 miles on the car. No squeaks, no rattles, no rust, no recalls. And it is one of the safest cars to drive. I bought the TOP of the line Touring Edition that has everything. $31000.
And they wonder why they have declined in customer satisfaction... REALLY?!?
With union workers quality will always suffer! I paying unskilled assembly line workers so much the manufacture has to cut back on quality! The unions have us made cars now costing what a cheap house does! I saw someone was even offering 8 years car loans ??
They union mentality of promotion thru seniority is but one of its faults. The great worker and innovational worker gets what everybody else gets. The slowest laziest and stupidest worker could be promoted ahead of the "best" employee!
Unionism is like socialism only the poor, lazy and stupid get ahead, everybody else gets dragged down! No reason to excel because there is no reward!
Name one industry that the unions have not destroyed or forced out of the county ? All unions should be outlawed !!!
first car..vega....second car......pinto.......third and every other car Honda...........I wonder why
This report seems to be at total odds with the 2013 JD Power Initial Quality Survey.
For instance, Chevrolet ranks 5th and GMC ranks 2nd ! Only Porsche received higher scores than GMC. So if, as this article states, owner satisfaction is "slipping in part because vehicle reliability may be suffering as automakers ramp up production", that is clearly not the case with GM vehicles. All GMs brands scored above industry average.
My last 3 cars were GM. I'm currently in a 2013 Chevy Cruze LTZ and it's probably the best car I've ever owned. The fact is, every auto manufacture builds a far better product than they were building 5 to 10 years ago.
Oh, and incidentally, it's totally misguided (to put it kindly) to blame union workers for any aspect of a vehicle that owners may be displeased with.
Unions had their purpose a long time ago. A new dawn is here... a global trade one. Now, unions are destroying the very manufacturing base they think they are attempting to save. They aren't saving the industry -- they are trying to save their overpaid, underworked, over-benefited, over-bloated pension jobs.
If you unionized autoworkers are as American and patriotic as you claim to be, realize your $85+/hour pay and benefit packages are destroying this great country. Better that you just quit your jobs and allow them to be replaced by the new tier employees or non-unionized employees that give a crap about the sustainability of this country.
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