While light-vehicle sales in the United States are making a welcomed recovery, customer satisfaction dropped in 2013 for the first time in two years, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index. The survey found that customer satisfaction with autos and light vehicles fell 1.2 percent to an industry-wide average of 83, from a highest score of 100. Despite the drop in satisfaction levels this year, the auto industry's customer satisfaction score remains higher than the original baseline of 79 in 1994.
According to the authors of the study, the slight fall in satisfaction could be due to prior improvements in customer satisfaction with the auto industry. The authors remarked that "higher levels of customer satisfaction create greater customer expectations that automakers are then challenged to meet, let alone exceed." David VanAmburg, director of ACSI, told Automotive News that while the slight drop in satisfaction isn't "cataclysmic" for carmaker, they should still take note and be wary of declining pent-up demand and excess production.
He added that this is particularly true for local carmakers, which are losing ground to foreign manufacturers in perceived quality. European carmakers ranked first in the index with a satisfaction score of 84.7, followed by Asian carmakers with a score of 84.1. Among brands, Mercedes-Benz ranked first in the index with a score of 88. The German carmaker followed by Lexus with a score of 87.
Ranking third are Japanese carmakers Subaru, Toyota and Honda with a score of 86. GMC and Cadillac ranked in fourth with a score of 85. The American Customer Satisfaction Index is based on phone and e-mail interviews with 4,078 recent customers randomly picked between April 6 and May 22. It measures customer satisfaction with the quality of 20 foreign and domestic nameplates.