Like all trade shows, the 2012 New York Auto Show raises as many questions as it answers: will this new model live up to the old one? How will customers take to its bland/aggressive/WTF styling? Where's Bob Lutz? And so on.
But amid all the uncertainty and doubt, there's one thing we know for sure: Cadillac and MINI have been making a concerted effort to improve their customers' shopping experiences, and J.D. Power has seen fit to honor them for that.
To determine which companies should be recognized for these awards, J.D. Power analyzed three years' worth of data from its five major automotive quality and satisfaction studies: the Initial Quality Study; the Vehicle Dependability Study; the Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout Study; the Sales Satisfaction Index Study; and the Customer Service Index (CSI) Study.
When all the ones had been carried and the scores rounded off, Cadillac came in at top of the luxury heap, followed by Lexus and Porsche. MINI took top honors for most improvement among mass market automakers, just above Mazda and Volkswagen. Representatives from all six brands were on hand yesterday at the Javitz Center to be recognized by J.D. Power.
There are, of course, two perspectives you could take on this. The pessimistic one would be that these six brands were only able to make major improvements because they ranked so low to begin with. After all, if you're sitting pretty in the #1 spot, there's not quite as much room for growth.
But that's the wrong approach, because both of the big winners -- particularly Cadillac -- have performed well in their respective categories for some time. No, what these awards say to us is that Cadillac and MINI took the crisis of the Great Recession and turned it into opportunity. As we discussed with Lincoln earlier in the week, both understand that it's not just the quality of the vehicle, but also the quality of the customer experience, that makes the sale.
Congrats to all six winners. Stay tuned to TCC as we wrap up the final press day of the 2012 New York Auto Show.