Despite only having been in the Mexican market since 2002, Toyota now ranks first in terms of vehicle owner satisfaction in the country, according to the newly released J.D. Power and Associates '2004 Mexico Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study'.
The firm's inaugural study of the Mexican vehicle ownership market, based on interviews with 3,577 owners of new 2002 and 2003 model-year vehicles, aims to offer automotive manufacturers and consumers an objective measure of vehicle ownership satisfaction within the country. The measure of overall owner satisfaction was based on customers' experiences with their vehicle in four areas: vehicle quality and reliability, vehicle appeal (the design, style, performance and comfort of the vehicle), dealership service (satisfaction with the dealer service department), and ownership costs.
Toyota ranked highest overall among high-volume makes, performing very well in the areas of ownership costs and vehicle quality and reliability. Honda, which entered the Mexican market in 1995, follows closely, performing well in the areas of vehicle appeal and service satisfaction.
"The fact that Toyota and Honda - two relative newcomers to the Mexican market - have already made a strong impact on owners illustrates the highly competitive nature of the automotive industry in Mexico," explained Steve Witten, executive director of automotive research for J.D. Power and Associates. "Increasing competition and product proliferation, over-capacity, and changing customer expectations are just a few of the issues that have altered the competitive landscape of the Mexican automotive market."
The high-volume industry average score for vehicle ownership satisfaction was 687 out of a maximum of 1,000 index points. Following Toyota and Honda in the rankings above the industry average were Pontiac, Jeep, Nissan, Chrysler, Dodge and Renault (in that order).
Levels of satisfaction with vehicle quality and reliability tended to be higher than the other three areas measured. With an industry average of 742, the vehicle quality and reliability score was much higher than ratings given for vehicle appeal (729), service (680) and cost of ownership (612). However, despite higher scores in this area, the majority of owners (61%) indicated that they had one or more problems with their vehicle, while 35% had experienced three or more problems.
"Based on our automotive customer satisfaction measurements conducted globally, we've seen time and again that satisfaction has a very powerful impact on both brand loyalty and advocacy," said Witten. "Brands with customer satisfaction levels below industry average tend to be negatively impacted by brand degradation, greater reliance on customer conquesting, and higher marketing expenses. Particularly in the Mexican market, there is still significant room for improvement and an untapped opportunity to achieve marketplace differentiation in all areas of ownership satisfaction."
Respondents of the 2004 Mexico Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction Study survey were interviewed in Mexico's three largest automotive markets (Mexico City, Guadalajara and Monterrey) and were asked to evaluate their experiences during the first 6 to 24 months of vehicle ownership. The study can be obtained directly from J.D. Power and Associates.