Is Detroit falling behind the Japanese – again?
A survey released this past week showed that the gap in customer satisfaction between the Detroit automakers and Japan’s top names has grown over the last year, even though Detroit’s new cars are better than ever.
The new American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey shows that when it comes to satisfied customers, Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM), Honda Motor Co Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:HMC), and Subaru still shine.
Meanwhile, General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) Chevrolet brand has fallen from above average last year to the very bottom of the heap.
The gap between Japan and Detroit is widening
The survey included about 4,000 randomly selected folks who had recently bought a new car. Last spring, ACSI asked them a bunch of questions to find out how satisfied they were with their cars and with the overall experience.
Among the findings:
- Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM), Honda Motor Co Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:HMC), and Subaru each scored 86 points, higher than every American brand included in the survey. Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM)’s and Honda Motor Co Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:HMC)’s scores have risen in the last year. Luxury brands Mercedes-Benz and Lexus were the only brands to score higher.
- Among American brands, Cadillac and GMC led with scores of 85, just one point behind Toyota.
- The Chrysler brand gained ground – it’s now average – but Chrysler Group’s other two brands, Dodge and Jeep, both fell.
- Dodge and Chevrolet tied for worst of the bunch. That was a big fall for Chevy, which was just ahead of Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) a year ago.
So what does all this mean?
Is Detroit doing too much at once?
Since the economic crisis, all three of Detroit’s automakers have pushed hard to overhaul their product lines to make them more competitive with the world’s best. On the whole, they’re succeeding – but that push has come with a cost.
For Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F), new-car launches have proven to be a challenge. Last year’s launch of the Escape was followed by several recalls in quick succession – and quality glitches slowed last fall’s launch of the Fusion sedan. Both have since gone on to be best-sellers, but buyers of early models may have become frustrated.