Despite Strong Car Sales, Customer Satisfaction Is Slipping

August 28, 2013

U.S. auto sales are on a tear, but according to the latest report from American Customer Satisfaction Index, drivers are less happy with their rides than they were one year ago.

To gather that data, ACSI conducts interviews with 70,000 customers each year, asking respondents to rate their satisfaction with various companies on a scale of 0 (very dissatisfied) to 100 (completely satisfied).

The good news is that auto satisfaction scores are still high compared to before the Great Recession. On average, automakers have received scores of 83 since the recession, but were ranked at about 80 prior to the economic turmoil. 

The bad news -- at least for Detroit fans -- is that U.S. brands aren't faring as well as their Asian and European counterparts. As you'll see from the chart above, only two of the eight brands that score above the industry average (83) hail from Detroit: Cadillac and GMC. By contrast, the three worst-ranked auto brands are all American: Chevrolet, Dodge, and Jeep. Taken as a whole, Ford and General Motors brands are running neck-and-neck, while Chrysler lags in satisfaction.

That said, there's plenty of bad news to go around: 33 percent of Asian brands lost ground in ACSI's 2013 study, as did 66 percent of European brands. On those fronts, BMW and Hyundai suffered the biggest setbacks.

In all, satisfaction has fallen 1.2 percent from 2012 to 2013. According to the report, this ought to serve as a wake-up call: "The current dip in customer satisfaction should be seen as a warning signal to automakers — once pent-up demand has run its course, continued sales growth will go to companies that retain their own customers and to those that attract competitors’ customers."

If you'd like a copy of ACSI's full report, you can find one here, though you'll need to fill out a short form to get it. Use your spam email address, just to be safe. 


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