Two Audi and two Volkswagen models rank highest in satisfying owners, according to the J.D. Power and Associates/CAR Magazine 2005 South Africa Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) Study(SM) released this week in South Africa. The four awards – which are the most received by any manufacturer in the study – are for the Audi A3, Audi A4, Volkswagen Citi Golf and the Volkswagen Touran.

In addition to the Volkswagen-Audi models, General Motors and Mitsubishi models each receive two awards while BMW, Ford, Honda and Subaru models each receive a single award.

The CSI Study is a comprehensive measurement of ownership satisfaction covering 77 attributes grouped into four factors of satisfaction (the importance of each factor is shown as a percentage):

  • Vehicle quality and reliability (32%)
  • Vehicle appeal (29%) — includes performance, design, comfort, styling and features
  • Dealership service satisfaction (19%)
  • Cost of ownership (20%) — includes fuel consumption, insurance and cost of service/repair

The importance weights are developed based on survey responses from vehicle owners, thus reflecting what is most important to South Africa’s motorists. CSI performance is reported as an index score based on a 1000-point scale. A higher CSI score indicates a more satisfying ownership experience.

Although the cost of ownership factor score has improved significantly in 2005, it remains the lowest rated of the four CSI factors at the industry level. Contributing to the low cost-of-ownership scores are poor ratings for insurance costs, cost of service/repair and fuel consumption.

“This finding is an important reminder that when shopping for a new vehicle, it is essential to consider more than just the cost of purchasing the new vehicle,” said Brian Walters, senior director of European operations at J.D. Power and Associates.

“The costs of owning and operating a vehicle can turn an otherwise satisfying ownership experience into a financial hardship.”

At the brand level, Subaru leads the South African market in CSI by 16 index points over second-ranked BMW. Rounding out the top five nameplates are Audi, Honda and Volvo, respectively.

To reach the pole position, Subaru has improved by 50 index points in 2005, more than any other nameplate. Other nameplates improving significantly in 2005 include Nissan (+32 index points), Fiat and Honda (each +27 index points) and Kia and Mazda (each +24 index points). Subaru receives the highest ratings in two of the four CSI factors: vehicle quality/reliability and service satisfaction. BMW leads in vehicle appeal, while Audi excels in ownership costs.

“The presence of Subaru and Honda among the most satisfying nameplates is proof that motorists in South Africa do not need to buy the most expensive vehicles to get a truly satisfying ownership experience,” said Walters. “In fact, the presence of compact cars, luxury sedans, MPVs and SUVs among the most satisfying models is evidence that satisfying vehicles come in all shapes, sizes and price points.”

The South Africa CSI Study is conducted independently by J.D. Power and Associates to establish a benchmark of vehicle ownership satisfaction in the South Africa market. The survey was carried out in cooperation with the Department of Transport (DOT), which facilitated the distribution of questionnaires. The study is based on responses from more than 10400 owners of new vehicles first registered between October 2003 and September 2004.

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