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Author Topic: Car buyers' satisfaction with US brands stumbles  (Read 533 times)

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Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Car buyers' satisfaction with US brands stumbles
« on: August 19, 2008, 07:56:47 AM »
Well it's not really politics or religion, but based on past conversations I've had over the subject, it might as well be a little of both.

NEW YORK U.S. car buyers are growing less satisfied with their purchases from domestic automakers while their Asian and European competitors continue to improve, according to a recent survey.

Consumer satisfaction with U.S. auto brands slipped as Lexus and BMW tied for first place, followed by Toyota and Honda, according to the University of Michigan's American Customer Satisfaction Index released Tuesday.

General Motors Corp.'s Buick and Cadillac brands, and Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln and Mercury lines, fell from their No. 2 perch at a time when U.S. companies are struggling to outshine their competitors and reverse their shrinking sales and market share.

That's an unsettling sign for domestic automakers, said Claes Fornell, the University of Michigan business professor who heads the annual survey. Traditionally, U.S. brands improve their customer satisfaction scores each year, just not as much as their overseas counterparts. Now, the domestic companies' ratings are declining while their competitors' scores continue to climb.

"This is somewhat of a double whammy here," Fornell said. "The struggling companies are getting an even tougher road in the near future. The question also is do they really have the resources, the cash here" to adapt.

The auto industry's customer satisfaction has increased steadily over time and its overall score of 82 unchanged from the high set a year ago is higher than many other industries the index tracks.

In addition, just 11 points separate the best-scoring brand from the worst, but domestic automakers are having the hardest time adapting to high gas prices and a shift in demand toward more fuel efficient vehicles, and that is manifesting itself in weaker customer satisfaction, Fornell said.

"I think there is little question that the domestic automakers are somewhat strapped for resources, and they have to go out and borrow money and stuff like that," he said. "Whenever they have to do that, it is difficult to come up with the same level of quality and the same level of customer satisfaction."

Asian and European automakers crowded the upper end of the rankings. BMW gained one point to score 87, tying Toyota Motor Corp.'s Lexus luxury brand, which held the top spot alone last year. Toyota's namesake brand and fellow Japanese automaker Honda Motor Co. both rose two points to 86.

Several U.S. brands, by contrast, saw their ratings slump. Buick and Cadillac fell a point to a score of 85, while Chevrolet slipped three points to 79. GM's Saturn brand, however, jumped four points to 85, which Fornell said was largely due to the brand's better fuel economy.

Lincoln and Mercury lost three points to 83, while the score for Ford's namesake brand was unchanged at 80.

Chrysler LLC's brands fared the worst among the domestic automakers. Its Dodge and Jeep lines sat at the bottom of the 22-brand ranking, while its namesake brand shared the fifth-to-last spot with Ford. All of Chrysler's ratings came in below the average rating.

The telephone survey asked 5,500 people who bought cars within the past three years how their satisfaction level compared with expectations, how their vehicle compares with the ideal vehicle, and their overall satisfaction level, on a scale of zero to 100.

The survey's margin of error is about two points for each car maker, Fornell said.

A guy in my EQ guild used to be a US auto worker, and maybe he's just been mentally conditioned over the years and maybe he's convinced GM has his phone and internet tapped, but this is like discussing the afterlife with some people.

I am an American citizen and I do like to buy American where it's available and justified, both increasingly uncommon occurrences, but it's only now that surveys are figuring this out? Just how bad a case of Chronic Head Up Ass Syndrome does Detroit have anyway?

I'm going to tick some folks off here no doubt, as surely as if I were to leave a flaming bag of dog poo on the front steps of their church and ring the doorbell, but here goes anyway: US autos by and large SUCK.

There's a few decent ones that still rank well with Consumer Reports and the like, but generally yeah the Japanese cars sell better because they are made better. Toyota, Honda, Mitsu...pretty much rank good across the board.

I've theorized on this for a while, and all I keep coming up with is sloth. I mean, in general the US used to build among the best fracking cars in the world. I have no real doubt that we still can. We've put men on the moon, put a space shuttle up well over 100 times, we've built the internet, done organ transplants, split the atom, etc. etc. etc.

I know Detroit can make better cars if it wants to, and that's just it doesn't want to. They haven't consistently cranked out really good cars for probably 35 years now, and that's bullshit. The big three are as fat and lazy as Washington; a bunch of fat suits that don't give a shit so long as the profits are still rolling in.

The quality American automobile is a relic of a bygone era, by auto standards an antique era. Some people have had this figured out for a long time, and now it looks like the rest are finally getting it. If you're a diehard GM or Ford guy, odds are good you've only been buying a long-departed dream, you've paid only for a name that's riding on past glories.

With a few rare exceptions I won't buy an American car until Detroit fucking cleans up its act, and at the rate they're going, the glaciers are all going to slide off into the sea and melt before that happens.

Point is, people can be taken by practically anything, be it a bullshit religion, a weasely politician, or a domestic company that's riding on fumes of its own making. Big business doesn't give a damn about you or me, it's all about the Benjamins. If anything good might come out this sort of article, it's that the public might finally figure out what a steaming, festering crock of shit the powers that be here are.

I will blame the government too here; because whenever one of these auto companies goes belly up, the good old stupid govt. bails them out. I know many would mourn the passing of a major US automaker like they would their favorite dog that they had to take in for a shot at the veterinarian, but I think that's just what we should do. The next time one of them goes ass-up and starts sinking, we ought to let the Titanic sink. Screw these SOB's.  >:(
« Last Edit: August 19, 2008, 07:58:40 AM by The Overlord »

Offline Vekseid

Re: Car buyers' satisfaction with US brands stumbles
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2008, 10:09:53 AM »
I'm surprised United Auto Workers gets absolutely no mention.

Unions serve their purpose but right now they are one of the many festering wounds that cripple the American economy.

Offline The OverlordTopic starter

Re: Car buyers' satisfaction with US brands stumbles
« Reply #2 on: August 19, 2008, 10:27:12 PM »

And for the record, I feel for auto workers who are likely going to lose their jobs no matter what happens in the Motor City. They're going to get the short end of the stick no matter what happens to their fat execs. I won't pretend I understand the complexities of the interaction between the auto industry and its unions, but I don't need to be an expert in anything to see it's all broken, and badly.