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USAA Federal Savings Bank and Lexus Financial Services Lead in Auto Financing Satisfaction

October 17, 2001

For the third consecutive year, consumers rank USAA Federal Savings Bank highest in initial auto loan satisfaction, while Lexus Financial Services ranks highest this year in initial lease satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2001 Consumer Financing Satisfaction Study(SM) released Oct. 17.

BMW Financial Services and Infiniti Financial Services rank second and third, respectively, in loan satisfaction. Volvo Finance and Ford Credit round out the top three finance providers in initial lease satisfaction.

"Whether they purchase or lease a new vehicle, getting a ‘fair deal’ is the most important factor influencing a consumer’s satisfaction with their provider," said David McKay, director of auto finance and insurance for J.D. Power and Associates. "How well a new-vehicle loan or lease is set up and the timeliness and accuracy of billing also play important roles. Many of the leading financing companies have created processes to ensure that these basic needs are met. However, finance provider satisfaction does not end once the loan or lease is signed," McKay said.

According to the study, one in four customers contact their loan or lease provider during the first three months of ownership. Regardless of the type of financial institution used, consumers contact their provider most often to have a question answered.

"Consumers want to use their time efficiently," McKay said. "They want their questions answered quickly by a well-trained, professional staff."

Among new-vehicle owners who have contacted their financial services provider, Ford Credit customers rate their provider contact experience the highest.

"Being successful in the contact area, Ford Credit demonstrates its ongoing commitment to providing a positive financing experience," McKay said. "Challenged by rising consumer expectations, responsive service representatives skilled in understanding a consumer’s needs become critical to the financing relationship."

The proportion of consumers who opted to finance their new vehicle increased 6 percent in the last year, according to study.

"The economic downturn has not only had a negative impact on the number of vehicles sold in the U.S., it has also forced more consumers to finance their new vehicle as opposed to paying cash," McKay said. "The recent introduction of interest-free financing offered after the Sept. 11 tragedy and the fact that many consumers have less disposable income than a year ago will only perpetuate this trend."

Faced with higher vehicle prices and fewer lease financing provider choices, consumers’ satisfaction with their auto financing institutions decreased this year by 5 percent for loans and 3 percent for leases.

"Consumers expect more from a finance provider each time they return to market," McKay said. "When expectations rise, the ability of a finance provider to meet or exceed those expectations is challenged."

The Consumer Financing Satisfaction Study includes responses of more than 40,000 consumers who purchased or leased a new vehicle in 2001. The study measures financial providers in the following areas: new-vehicle initial financing, end-of-term financing, leasing satisfaction on a consumer’s prior vehicle and contact with a provider’s call center.

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Agoura Hills, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services firm operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, consulting, training and customer satisfaction.

The firm’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on actual responses from millions of consumers annually.

J.D. Power and Associates can be accessed through the Internet at www.jdpa.com.

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