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Reliability a top shopper concern

January 29, 2016
Vehicle reliability remains a top concern of new-vehicle shoppers, the latest J.D. Power Avoider Study found.
Fifty-five percent of the 26,500 survey respondents, who registered a new vehicle in April and May of last year, said reliability was a leading reason for their purchase, up from 51 percent in the previous year’s analysis.
Looking at it from the opposite angle, 17 percent said perceived reliability was a chief reason why they avoided a certain vehicle, versus 14 percent the previous year.
"Though vehicle reliability and durability have improved significantly over the years, they remain a vital consideration for consumers," said Dave Sargent, vice president of quality practice for J.D. Power. "With so many auto recalls in the news and challenges with the introduction of new technology, consumers are even more attuned to the expected reliability of new vehicles.
"This impacts which models consumers avoid and which ones they ultimately purchase. "Bad news can tarnish an automaker’s reputation in an instant, yet, can take years to build back up. Automakers need to convince consumers of the true reliability of their vehicles so it is not a reason to avoid selecting a particular model."
Above reliability, exterior and interior styling still remain the top two most frequently cited reasons for buying a vehicle.
Lower gas prices also appear to have made an impact on consumer preferences, as J.D. Power notes that 51 percent of shoppers considered fuel economy when purchasing their vehicle in 2015, down from 55 percent in the previous year.
Although nothing new, another issue that has stuck around is the fact that some shoppers tend to change brands because they simply want to try something new.
"This is a major challenge for auto marketers," Sargent said. "In the auto industry, building consumer trust, loyalty and advocacy is paramount to ongoing success. However, there are so many great vehicles available to consumers that merely satisfying your customers is simply the cost of entry.
"To truly succeed, automakers must keep their exterior and interior designs fresh, ensure competitive performance and fuel economy levels, offer an array of advanced technology and achieve an excellent reputation for vehicle reliability."
Other key findings from the report, as listed by J.D. Power:
• Car Buyers Doing Less Window Shopping: Since 2012, new-vehicle buyers are considering fewer models and shopping fewer dealers. On average, buyers physically shop only three models, one of which they buy.
• Domestic Brands vs. European and Asian Brands: There remains a significant disconnect between perception and reality regarding the reliability of domestic brands compared with European and Asian brands. Avoidance of domestic models due to reliability concerns (24 percent) is nearly twice that of European (13 percent) and Asian (12 percent) models. In reality, the actual reliability of most domestic models is competitive with that of their import competitors.