GM high in quality survey

WARREN – Calling General Motors’ performance “very, very strong,” a respected global marketing information company this week announced the Detroit automaker far outpaced competitors in an annual new car owner satisfaction survey.

The J.D. Power 2013 “Initial Quality Study” released Wednesday showed General Motors’ GMC ranked second in a new-car owner customer satisfaction survey, the highest the make has ever ranked. Chevrolet ranked fifth, also its highest spot ever on the study used as a benchmark by auto manufacturers around the world.

Among 26-model-level segment awards, Chevrolet earned five – the most of any make. Overall rankings by nameplate indicated that eight General Motors vehicles were ranked highest in their segments for most customer satisfaction.

They included, for midsize sporty car: Chevy Camaro (tied with Ford Mustang); large car: Chevy Impala; subcompact crossover: Buick Encore (tied with Kia Sportage); large crossover: Chevrolet Tahoe; large premium crossover: Cadillac Escalade; large light-duty pickup: Chevrolet Avalanche and GMC Sierra LD (tie); and large heavy-duty pickup: Chevrolet Silverado HD.

General Motor’s vice president of Global Quality and U.S. Customer Experience Alicia Boler-Davis was thrilled with the company’s ranking, its highest ever.

“Nothing energizes us more than receiving the verification of quality from our customers,” she said.

Despite his enthusiasm about the rating, Bill Sims of Sims Buick GMC Nissan on Elm Road in Warren on Thursday didn’t seem particularly surprised. He noted customers who purchase GMC and Buicks at his dealership rarely return complaints on GM surveys taken a few weeks after customers take delivery.

Still, the J.D. Power rating will help drive sales, he noted.

“People are much more educated when they purchase vehicles,” Sims said. “They will do their research online first.”

Sims pointed out that GMC, for example, rated second only to Porsche and had a score of 90 based on the number of problems per 100 vehicles purchased. “The industry average is 113, so it shows the quality of GMC,” Sims said.

J.D. Power vice president of global automotive David Sargent said a large majority of problems reported by customers of all makes and models stem from design issues rather than defects and are far less likely to be successfully resolved at the dealership than are defects.

For example, the component may be working as designed, but owners deem it a problem because it may be difficult to understand or operate, he said.

“Automakers are investing billions of dollars into designing and building vehicles and adding technologies that consumers desire and demand, but the risk is that the vehicle design, or the technology within the vehicle, in some cases may not meet customer needs,” Sargent said.

“Keep in mind that automakers are trying to design vehicles that appeal to a broad array of consumers, and what works for the majority may not work for all. The successful companies will be those automakers that find a way to give customers the technology they want while at the same time making it sufficiently intuitive so all customers find it easy to use,” he said.

Still, Sargent praised GM for its good showing this year.

“The performance of GMC and Chevrolet are symptomatic of very, very strong performance by General Motors this year,” Sargent said.

The Lordstown-built Chevy Cruze ranked in the top half of its large, competitive compact car segment based on customer satisfaction.

J.D. Power and Associates spokesman John Tews said the Cruze ranked ninth of 19 automobiles in the segment; the number of problems per 100 score was not available.

The 2013 Initial Quality Survey, now in its 27th year, is based on responses from more than 80,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2013 model year vehicles surveyed at 90 days of ownership.