Sliding scale of loyalty

Premium vehicle owners generally have higher loyalty than volume owners, but they also put a higher importance on a problem-free ownership experience.

This is according to the J.D. Power 2017 UK Vehicle Dependability Study, released today.

The study, now in its third year, measures problems experienced during the past 12 months by original owners of vehicles in the UK after 12-36 months of ownership. The study examines 177 problem symptoms across eight categories: vehicle exterior; driving experience; features/controls/displays (FCD); audio/communication/entertainment/navigation (ACEN); seats; heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC); vehicle interior; and engine and transmission.

Overall dependability is determined by the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles, with a lower score reflecting higher quality. Among premium owners who experience no problems with their vehicle, 58% say they ‘definitely will’ purchase/lease the same brand again. That number declines to 48% among premium owners experiencing one or more problems.

Volume owners experience a steep decline in intended loyalty upon experiencing the first problem (to 40% from 49%), and loyalty steadily declines from there as the number of problems experienced increases.

‘Minor issues like foggy windows, noisy brakes or navigation systems that are difficult to use can be very frustrating for owners and can negatively affect brand loyalty,’ said Mark Lendrich, head of research at J.D. Power Europe. ‘These design problems aren’t easy to fix at a service appointment and, if the owner has to live with these problems for the duration of time they have the vehicle, they’re less likely to purchase the same brand in the future.’