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The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Vehicle Reliability a Growing Concern for Car Buyers

January 19, 2016

For the first time in nearly a decade, concerns about reliability have increased as a reason consumers avoid certain vehicle models, a recent J.D. Power survey has shown.

The J.D.Power 2016 U.S. Auto Avoider Study examined the reasons consumers purchased, rejected and avoided models in the marketplace during 2015. Vehicle reliability has become a top consideration for consumers deciding on which vehicle to buy, according to the survey.

In 2015, 55% of new vehicle buyers cited reliability as the third-most frequently cited reason after exterior and interior styling — a 4% bump from the 51% of people who cited it as a reason in last year’s survey. Reliability has also become a greater reason consumers do not consider or avoid other models: 17% in the 2016 study and 14% in last year’s study.

“Though vehicle reliability and durability have improved significantly over the years, they remain a vital consideration for consumers,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of quality practice for J.D. Power. “With so many auto recalls in the news and challenges with the introduction of new technology, consumers are even more attuned to the expected reliability of new vehicles. Bad news can tarnish an automaker’s reputation in an instant, yet, can take years to build back up. Automakers need to convince consumers of the true reliability of their vehicles so it is not a reason to avoid selecting a particular model.”

The study’s findings also show that buyers who avoid models for reliability tend to also have concerns regarding resale value, cost of maintenance and safety. Because of low gas prices, fuel economy has reached a five-year low as a cited reason consumers select a new vehicle — 51% in this year’s study and 55% in last year’s, according to the study.

Additionally, the study found that 54% of new-vehicle owners who replaced a vehicle buy the same brand or a brand within the same corporation. Consumers who bought a vehicle from a different corporation entirely, 46%, said the top reason for not buying within the same brand was because they “simply wanted to try something different.”

“This is a major challenge for auto marketers,” Sargent said. “In the auto industry, building consumer trust, loyalty and advocacy is paramount to ongoing success. However, there are so many great vehicles available to consumers that merely satisfying your customers is simply the cost of entry. To truly succeed, automakers must keep their exterior and interior designs fresh, ensure competitive performance and fuel economy levels, offer an array of advanced technology and achieve an excellent reputation for vehicle reliability.”

Editor's note: This article first appeared on F&I and Showroom's website.

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