On the other hand, Japanese and German automakers as well as Buick seem to be getting it together.
It’s that time of year where quality rankings for vehicles during the recent calendar year are coming out, and so far it appears that things have been looking good for German brands, Japanese automakers, and…Buick? A recent Consumer Reports survey put Audi, Porsche, and BMW at the top with Lexus, Subaru, Kia, and Mazda following closely behind. Then JD Power released its dependability survey and found Lexus and Porsche tied for the top spot in overall new vehicle quality.
However, it’s Lexus that shoots back to dominance, claiming first place in JD Power’s Customer Service rankings. It’s interesting that the automakers that are the most dependable are also the ones that have the best customer service at their dealerships given that reliable vehicles are in the shop less often, but that was the case when Lexus took the number one place for having a dealership network that left customers satisfied more than any other brand. However, following Consumer Report’s and JD Power’s previous ratings, the Germans weren’t far behind. Coming in second place was Audi with Porsche, JD Power’s previous number one brand along with Lexus, taking third place.
Interestingly, American luxury brands ranked highly with Lincoln garnering a second place title and Cadillac getting fourth. And while Jaguar managed a fifth place spot, its sibling Land Rover ranked last place among the luxury brands. Then there’s the case of Buick, which took number one for mass-market brands and, according to Consumer Reports and JD Power, is proof that General Motors does know a thing or two about good build quality and customer service. Luckily, dealerships wanting to improve can heed the advice JD Power published alongside the ratings, claiming that text message reminders seem to serve better to lull customers back in for maintenance than cold calling them.
“It’s not surprising to see the preference for receiving updates through text messages continue to rise, but only 3 percent of customers indicate they receive text message updates,” said Chris Sutton, vice president of J.D. Power’s U.S. automotive retail practice. “Correcting that disconnect by adding more text message capability should be a priority with a service operation.” No mention on how Tesla's network of stores is faring compared to typical dealerships. The most bleak outlook was again for Fiat Chrysler, with the survey’s bottom four spots filled up by Dodge, Ram, Jeep, and Fiat. Chrysler managed to escape from making the bottom five spots an FCA family reunion because of Mazda, which slotted above Dodge. Get it together FCA.