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J.D. Power: New-Vehicle Shoppers Consider More Models, Worry Less About Reliability

January 17, 2013

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif. — As perceptions of both reliability and actual vehicle dependability improve, new-vehicle shoppers are considering more models before making their purchase decision, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Avoider Study.

The study, now in its 10th year, examines the reasons consumers do not consider — or avoid — particular models when shopping for a new vehicle.

As vehicle reliability improves across the industry, new-vehicle shoppers now consider an average of 3.3 vehicles in 2013, compared with 3.1 in 2012 and 2.9 in 2010, the study found. Additionally, fewer shoppers (21 percent) in 2013 purchased their vehicle without cross-shopping other models, compared with 26 percent in 2012 and 29 percent in 2010.

The study also found that only 17 percent of new-vehicle shoppers avoid a model due to its reputation for reliability, compared with 19 percent in 2012 and 21 percent in 2009. Not only has the perception of reliability and dependability improved, but also the actual quality of vehicles has improved, as the average number of problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) after three years of ownership has decreased to 132 PP100 in 2012[1] from 170 PP100 in 2009.

“Improved actual and perceived reliability has leveled the playing field, allowing many manufacturers to be considered among new-vehicle shoppers that may not have been considered in the past,” said Jon Osborn, research director at J.D. Power and Associates. “Factors, such as gas mileage, styling and comfort, play an important role in the decision-making process. The study findings suggest that marketing a brand image is just as important as building reliable vehicles.”

The styling of the model, and the image it portrays, are among the primary reasons new-vehicle shoppers avoid particular models. One-third (33 percent) of shoppers avoid a model because they do not like its exterior look or design, while 19 percent of shoppers do not consider a model because they don’t like its interior look or design. The study also found that the image a model portrays plays an important part in avoidance. Nearly one in five (17 percent) new-vehicle shoppers avoid a model because they don’t like the image it portrays.

“The impact that design and brand image have on new-vehicle shoppers is substantial,” said Osborn. “Shoppers are concerned about what the vehicle says about them as people and how it can express their individual tastes, just as much as it is about being reliable or holding its value throughout the tenure of ownership.”

Gas mileage remains the most influential purchase reason, with 15 percent of new-vehicle owners in 2013 saying it was the primary reason for purchasing their vehicle. Although young owners (under age 25) cite gas mileage as the most influential purchase reason more often than their older counterparts, owners in all age groups indicate gas mileage is the most influential purchase reason.

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