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10:56 am
Tue August 26, 2014

Car customer satisfaction slips for almost all, more for non-U.S. brands

Chevrolet and Buick were the only two brands to see an increase in customer satisfaction in the 2014 American Customer Satisfaction Index.
Credit GM

Customer satisfaction with new cars declined for the second year in a row. 

This year, satisfaction with new car purchases declined a little more than one percent, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. 

Founder Claus Fornell says car companies are churning out cars pretty fast these days to meet the high demand.  That may be increasing quality problems - and  recalls.

"It's a nuisance or worse, for consumers," says Fornell, "and therefore, it's not surprising that customer satisfaction is lower for those people who have had a recall."

But Fornell says satisfaction with cars is still quite high compared to most industries. That's because there's been a dramatic improvement in car quality.

"Compared to let's say 20-25 years ago, all these products are very good.   It is not low satisfaction compared to other industries, but it is going in the wrong direction."

People are still happier with foreign-based brands than domestic brands.  But, the decline in satisfaction was steeper this year for foreign makes than it was for domestics, narrowing the gap between the two.

Chevrolet and Buick were the only two brands to improve in customer satisfaction. 

Some luxury brands also did not do that well on the index.  Fornell says customer satisfaction used to be almost automatically higher for luxury cars.  Now, luxury brands are slipping.

"And I think it has to do with the sensitivity of the customer to price or price increases, or value for money, that you have to be a little more careful here when you price these luxury vehicles," says Fornell.