J.D. Power survey results have been slightly up but mostly down for automakers this year, literally. In February, the 2023 Vehicle Dependability Study showed an overall decline compared the 2022 a month before the Customer Service Index Study did the same. The trend reversed in June with a better overall score on the 2023 U.S. Electric Vehicle Consideration Study than in 2022, then declined again the same month on with a lower overall score on the 2023 Initial Quality Study. The declines continue with the 2023 J.D. Power U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, overall satisfaction among the 84,555 respondents down two points overall compared to 2022, to 845 out of 1,000 points.

Because last year’s score dropped compared to 2021, this year marks the first consecutive decline in the study’s 28-year history.

The study tries to “[measure] owners’ emotional attachment and level of excitement with new vehicle” after 90 days of ownership by asking new owners to rate 37 attributes in 10 areas around the vehicle, such as the feeling they get when they hit the accelerator. Satisfaction with nine of the attributes is down this year versus last, fuel economy the only segment to show better results with 15 points more satisfaction.

Styling and infotainment are big drags on satisfaction. Responses to new car exterior looks tallied 888 points, down from 894 last year, the largest drop in this year’s study.

On the digital side, less than half of those surveyed this year said they prefer using a manufacturer’s built-in infotainment. From 70% of respondents in 2020 preferring to use a manufacturer’s in-house software to play audio instead of Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, that’s 56% in 2023. Going all-in on Google appears to have the best effect. J.D. Power said that vehicles with both Google’s Android Automotive Operating System (AAOS) and Google Automotive Services (GAS) “score higher in the infotainment category than those with no AAOS whatsoever. AAOS without GAS receives the lowest scores for infotainment of the three categories.” 

Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at J.D. Power, said, “Despite the technology and design innovations that manufacturers put into new vehicles, owners are lukewarm about them. While innovations like charging pads, vehicle apps and advanced audio features should enhance an owner’s experience, this is not the case when problems are experienced. This downward trajectory of satisfaction should be a warning sign to manufacturers that they need to better understand what owners really want in their new vehicles.”

It would be interesting to find out if shoppers like a feature on the showroom floor but grow to dislike the feature during ownership, or if it’s more that buyers aren’t clear on the ins and outs of the tech and don’t think about it until they realize the tech isn’t doing what they want.

Breaking out mass market and luxury segments yields the same result, small declines in overall APEAL scores for both — four points for mass market, one point for premium. The gap between the two scores grows to 34 points from 31 points last year. The winners in either category show the power of brand enthusiasm. On the luxury side, Jaguar is first among makers at 887, Land Rover and Porsche tied for second at 883, BMW in fourth at 878. Last year’s top five was Porsche, Genesis, Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz, and BMW.

For mass market, Dodge (887) took the crown for the fourth straight year, beating Ram (873) and GMC (858). That’s the same top three as last year.

Had Tesla been ranked with either group, it would would have come first with 878 points, even though that’s down nine points from a year ago.

The Hyundai Motor Group once more cleaned up with nine wins for individual models, the Kia arm showing up with a giant Korean broom to claim seven of those nine. The Hyundai Santa Cruz and Genesis GV60 won their respective segments, as did the Kia Carnival, EV6, Forte, K5, Rio, Stinger, and Telluride. BMW Group was next with five wins for the 7 Series, iX, X4, Mini Cooper and Mini Countryman. The Porsche 911 won its category with the highest APEAL score of any model with 914 points.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *