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J.D. Power: Customer Satisfaction Reaches Record Levels

November 21, 2006

Westlake Village, Calif. — Customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle sales process has reached a record high, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Sales Satisfaction Index Study. J.D. Power said customer satisfaction is measured on five factors — dealership facility, salesperson, paperwork/finance process, delivery process and vehicle price.

The industry achieved a record overall SSI score of 847 on a 1,000-point scale, a five-point improvement from 2005, the company reported. However, a leading cause of lost sales at new-vehicle dealerships is poor customer treatment. Nearly one-half of all shoppers who walk away from a dealership cite poor treatment as a reason, executives noted.

The study also found that customers are particularly sensitive to time-related issues when purchasing a new vehicle. On average, the entire purchase process takes about three hours.

Vehicle selection typically takes the most time, averaging 47 minutes, followed by negotiating the deal (38 minutes) and paperwork/finance (32 minutes).

One area impacting sales satisfaction is the time customers wait between negotiating the deal and beginning the paperwork and financing process, which currently averages 31 minutes.

Nearly one-third of all new-vehicle sales occur on either a Saturday or Sunday. However, satisfaction is consistently lower on the weekend compared to weekdays on every factor, primarily due to a longer process, according to executives. Overall, it takes an average of 22 minutes longer to purchase a car on a Saturday or Sunday.

Breaking it down by brand, J.D. Power said Jaguar ranked highest in satisfying buyers with the new-vehicle sales process. The company received the highest index score since the study was redesigned five years ago. With an SSI score of 912, Jaguar leads its closest competitor, Cadillac, by 21 points.

The purchase experience sets the tone for the subsequent relationship with customers during the entire vehicle-ownership cycle, according to the study. While four of five new-vehicle buyers express a general interest to spend future service dollars at the selling dealer, less than one-half (45 percent) indicate they "definitely" plan to do so, J.D. Power said. As sales satisfaction declines, the intention to return also declines.

Sales Satisfaction Index Rankings:

(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

Jaguar: 912

Cadillac: 891

Lincoln: 889

Porsche: 889

Lexus: 887

Saturn: 887

Buick: 884

Volvo: 883

Mercury: 881

Mercedes-Benz: 876

Hummer: 874

BMW: 873

Mini: 873

Land Rover: 872

Infiniti: 868

Chevrolet: 862

GMC: 861

Ford: 855

Acura: 854

Saab: 854

Pontiac: 852

Audi: 849

Industry Average: 847

Hyundai: 844

Honda: 843

Jeep: 841

Chrysler: 839

Dodge: 834

Toyota: 832

Kia: 828

Volkswagen: 827

Scion: 826

Subaru: 825

Nissan: 823

Mazda: 815

Suzuki: 810

Mitsubishi: 794

Isuzu was included in the study but not ranked due to small sample size.

The 2006 Sales Satisfaction Index Study was based on responses from 42,218 new-vehicle buyers who registered their vehicles in May 2006.

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