New car buyers are not happy. A new study from JD Power reveals that customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle buying experience has declined for the first time in more than a decade.
The annual Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) study, released today, ranks satisfaction on a 1,000-point scale. In 2021, the process ranked at 789. Today, the number is 786.
Among the factors impacting dissatisfaction are new vehicle price hikes due to lack of supply at dealership lots. Some models are more in demand than others. Half of the Honda CR-Vs that leave the factory are pre-sold. New models like the Ford F-150 Lightning and Bronco have been sold out for years, aside from the odd one-off that a customer rejects at the last minute.
“Even in the face of a continued shortage of new vehicle inventory and general inflationary pressure, dealers have been able to maintain a consistent level of sales satisfaction,” said Chris Sutton, vice president of automotive retail. at JD Power.
“With the supply chain being an ongoing problem with no short-term solution, dealers have had to use additional tools at their disposal, such as special orders and more personal customer management, to maintain sales satisfaction. However , when dealerships charge more than the MSRP, especially with long-term loyal customers, is likely to have a potential long-term negative effect on customer advocacy and service businesses.”
The 2022 study is the 37th time JD Power has measured consumer sentiment. Buyer satisfaction scores are based on six factors: delivery process, dealership staff, deal design, document completion, dealership facility, and dealership website.
This year’s study was conducted from July to September 2022 and consisted of responses from 36,879 buyers who purchased new or leased vehicles.
Survey results revealed that buyers of electric vehicles (EVs) are significantly less satisfied with the buying process than buyers of internal combustion engine vehicles. JD Power’s survey results place buyer satisfaction with battery electric vehicles (BEVs) 56 points lower (791) than gasoline vehicles (847). Premium BEV customers are even less satisfied, which translates to 831 points compared to the 864 their fellow premium petrol vehicle buyers earn.
The lack of charging instructions had a direct impact on the satisfaction of buyers who purchased an EV. There was a 100 point difference in how customers felt when they did not receive the instruction compared to when they received it.
The SSI study also found that buyers who paid the list price were significantly more satisfied with the vehicle buying process than those who did not. Among respondents, 25% paid more than MSRP for their new mainstream car and 19% paid more than one sticker for their premium vehicle.
Customers who specially ordered their vehicle were more satisfied with the sales process than those who chose their model from a dealer’s lot.
New-vehicle buyers are taking their dissatisfaction and turning away from dealerships for much of the buying process, relying on the brand’s web presence to meet most of their buying needs. This push began before the pandemic and has grown rapidly since then, with 18% of consumers reporting accepting an online purchase price, up from 15% in 2021.
Buick, Dodge and Subaru rank first and third respectively in the SSI study among mainstream brands. Alfa Romeo leads the premium brands, followed by Porsche in second and Lexus in third. Alfa’s score of 833 tops all other brands in the overall study.