China cars trail foreign rivals in customer satisfaction: JD Power poll

Buyers rank local brands low in terms of satisfaction, with foreign rivals providing better after-sales service, survey shows

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 5:20am

Mainland buyers' satisfaction with domestic vehicles continues to deteriorate as the local industry lags their foreign rivals in terms of dealership facilities and sales offers.

The satisfaction rating for local mainland cars scored only 599 points on average out of a scale of 1,000, ranking it last in comparison to other brands, according to an annual sales satisfaction survey by global auto firm JD Power, which polled 14,462 people who bought a car in the six months to February 2013.

The gap in ratings between domestic and international carmakers widened, from 33 points in 2011 to 67 points last year and 70 points this year.

Korean car brands led the survey in terms of customer satisfaction with an average score of 708, followed by European brands (671), Japanese brands (669) and US Brands (638).

Tony Zhou, director of automotive research at JD Power Asia-Pacific, said customers' biggest issue was with dealers' attitude and facilities.

"Dealers can deliver a better experience when they focus more on communicating one-on-one with customers to understand their individual needs and preferences and create an emotional bond with them at different touch points," Zhou said.

Dongfeng Nissan ranked highest among the mass market brands with a score of 732, while Audi topped the rating in the luxury car sector. Chery, First Automotive Works (FAW) and Geely's Gleagle and Emgrand were the only domestic brands with ratings above average.

Great Wall Motor spokesman Shang Yu-gui said the company has injected more money in the past two years to improve branding, advertising and after-sales service, but admitted it still trailed overseas rivals.

"It's simple maths, you pay a 100 yuan warranty on a domestic car and 1,000 yuan for a foreign brand. Of course the latter offers you better service, it's all part of the deal," Shang said. "Domestic carmakers started late in the market, but we are quickly catching up and striving to move up the medium-priced sector."

A number of indigenous carmakers including Shanghai Automotive, Beijing Automotive and Huachen Auto have launched or are building medium- to high-end models that cost between 200,000 (HK$250,000) and 300,000 yuan. Private mainland carmakers such as Great Wall and Geely saw sales jump 34 per cent and 22 per cent in the first five months of this year.

As a whole, domestic car sales were up 14.5 per cent year on year to 3.03 million over the same period, making up 41.8 per cent of the market.

The survey found that car brands with a high customer satisfaction rate are twice as likely to draw the same customer for a second purchase than those with a low satisfaction score.