Fuel con­sump­tion the most com­mon is­sue among new ve­hi­cle buy­ers

The Star Late Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - ROY COKAYNE roy.cokayne@inl.co.za

FUEL con­sump­tion has re­placed squeaks and rat­tles as the most com­mon prob­lem with new ve­hi­cles, ac­cord­ing to the lat­est ve­hi­cle quality sat­is­fac­tion sur­vey con­ducted by Ip­sos.

Pa­trick Buss­chau, the au­to­mo­tive direc­tor for Ip­sos South Africa, said yes­ter­day that it was not sur­pris­ing that bad fuel con­sump­tion was the most com­mon com­plaint from own­ers sur­veyed in light of the sen­si­tiv­ity all con­sumers felt to­wards the fuel price.

“This was the case in all but five of the 16 seg­ments sur­veyed. The ex­cep­tions were ‘in­ad­e­quate per­for­mance’ in the en­try, com­pact car and ex­tra-cab pick-up seg­ments, while ‘road­hold­ing’ was the most com­mon prob­lem area re­ported for multi-pur­pose ve­hi­cles.

“Sport and lux­ury car own­ers com­plained most about ‘in­for­ma­tion sys­tem mal­func­tion’,” he said.

Buss­chau said quality lev­els in South African pas­sen­ger cars and light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cles were gen­er­ally im­pres­sive and con­tin­ued to im­prove for both lo­cally pro­duced and im­ported mod­els, de­spite ve­hi­cles be­com­ing far more com­plex.

The num­ber of de­fects per 100 ve­hi­cles im­proved to 69 de­fects last year from 73 in 2016 and 81 in 2015.

The Ip­sos ve­hi­cle quality sat­is­fac­tion sur­vey un­der­went a ma­jor re­vamp in 2015 when it not only mea­sured the num­ber of de­fects but also ve­hi­cle de­sign is­sues or ir­ri­ta­tions that own­ers had ex­pe­ri­enced.

Buss­chau said this was to en­able Ip­sos to gen­er­ate more de­tailed feed­back from cus­tomers, be­cause the de­fects per 100 ve­hi­cles had plateaued.

He said a slight up­ward weight­ing was ap­plied to the de­fect mea­sure­ment and slight down­ward weight­ing to the de­sign ele­ment, be­cause de­fects had more of an im­pact on the propen­sity of cus­tomers to rec­om­mend and stay with the brand.

Be­fore this change in the scor­ing sys­tem, the fig­ure for de­fects re­ported by own­ers in 2014 was only 37 per 100 ve­hi­cles, an all-time low af­ter 23 years of ve­hi­cle quality mea­sure­ment by Ip­sos and its lo­cal pre­de­ces­sors.

The ve­hi­cle quality sat­is­fac­tion sur­vey is com­pleted by ve­hi­cle own­ers at about 90 days of own­er­ship, with the lower the de­fects per 100 ve­hi­cles, the bet­ter the quality of the ve­hi­cle.

Buss­chau said zero de­fects in a ve­hi­cle was no longer a dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing fac­tor, with the in­di­vid­u­alised ca­pac­ity of the ve­hi­cle to meet the cus­tomers’ needs now the dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing fac­tor.

But Buss­chau stressed that this was not to say de­fects were not an is­sue.

“They still are and you do get a dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing ele­ment. There is a rea­son why cer­tain pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties are bet­ter than oth­ers,” he said.

The re­search data used in the lat­est sur­vey was ob­tained last year from more than 7 000 cus­tomers from 16 par­tic­i­pat­ing brands, which rep­re­sented 73 per­cent of the new ve­hi­cles sold in South Africa via the dealer chan­nel last year.

Buss­chau said brands that did not par­tic­i­pate in the sur­vey in­cluded Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Kia, Hyundai, Porsche and some smaller brands.

Toy­ota im­proved on its 2016 per­for­mance in the lat­est Ip­sos ve­hi­cle quality awards, achiev­ing 13 gold awards from 16 cat­e­gories com­pared to nine gold awards. Volk­swa­gen was the run­ner-up with eight golds.

Toy­ota col­lected seven gold awards in the pas­sen­ger car cat­e­gory, Volk­swa­gen and Audi five each, Honda three, Opel two and Ford and Nis­san one each. Toy­ota was also dom­i­nant in the light com­mer­cial ve­hi­cle cat­e­gory. *See iol.co.za for the in­di­vid­ual ve­hi­cle rank­ings.

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