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Fuel Price Concerns Lead to Decrease in Vehicle Appeal
Thursday June 26, 7:00 am ET
American Honda and Toyota Motor Sales Each Receive Three Model-Level Awards

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., June 26 /PRNewswire/ -- In a reversal of a steady upward trend from previous years, overall new-vehicle owner delight has declined slightly in 2008, primarily due to owner concerns about fuel prices, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study(SM) released today.

The study, now in its 13th year, measures owner delight with the design, content, layout and performance of their new vehicles. APEAL complements the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study(SM) (IQS), which focuses on problems experienced by owners during the first 90 days of ownership. APEAL examines how gratifying a new vehicle is to own and drive, based on owner evaluations of 10 measures, encompassing more than 90 vehicle attributes. Over the years, vehicle models achieving high APEAL scores have been shown to benefit from faster sales, reduced need for consumer incentives and higher margins on each vehicle sold.

The overall APEAL score in 2008 averages 770 on a 1,000-point scale -- a 2-point decrease since 2007. A significant decrease in owner delight with fuel economy accounts for more than one-half of the overall decline.

"Average prices at the fuel pump have increased by 27 percent in the period between the 2007 and 2008 APEAL studies, creating heightened sensitivity to fuel economy among new-vehicle owners," said David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. "Even though more consumers are now achieving the gas mileage they expect compared with previous years, the increased cost of filling their vehicles still leads to a greater level of dissatisfaction with fuel economy than in the past. Manufacturers that deliver more fuel-efficient vehicles and integrate alternative fuel technology into their designs stand a better chance of delighting their customers and being successful in this rapidly changing marketplace."

The study finds that overall scores for most APEAL performance measures have either stayed the same or declined since 2007; only performance in the area of audio, entertainment and navigation improves slightly.

"Manufacturers are working to increase customer delight by introducing entertainment and navigation technology that owners find particularly appealing," said Sargent. "The key to doing this successfully is to develop technology features with the needs and wants of the user in mind -- most importantly, ensuring that technology is designed to be consumer-friendly and intuitive to use. Technology that is overly complicated to operate runs the risk of disappointing the customer."

The study also finds that, in a departure from previous years, models that have been mildly "refreshed" achieve higher APEAL scores, on average, than all-new or redesigned models.

"Historically, all-new vehicle models have been more successful in delighting customers than refreshed models, but this year, launching appealing new models has been more difficult for manufacturers," said Sargent. "The long-term success of a model can be predicted partially from how well it launches, which underscores the importance of a strong debut. Those automakers that manage to achieve high levels of both appeal and initial quality in their models can expect to benefit not only from customer acclaim, but also increased profitability."

APEAL Model-Level and Nameplate Rankings

Honda captures three model segment awards -- more than any other vehicle nameplate this year -- for the Fit (for a second consecutive year), Odyssey (for a fourth consecutive year) and Ridgeline (for a fourth consecutive year). Porsche, Toyota and Volkswagen each garner two awards. Porsche models receiving awards are the Cayenne and Cayman (for a third consecutive year), while Toyota earns awards for the FJ Cruiser and Sequoia. Volkswagen receives awards for the GTI/R32 (for a second consecutive year) and the Passat. The Honda Fit and Toyota Sequoia are the only two models to rank highest in their segments in both the APEAL and IQS studies.

Also receiving awards are the BMW 5 Series, Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Avalanche, Dodge Magnum, Land Rover Range Rover, Lexus IS, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, and MINI Cooper.

Porsche is the highest-ranking nameplate in APEAL for a fourth consecutive year. Among the 36 ranked nameplates, 20 experience a decline in index scores since 2007, while 15 improve. Domestic brands comprise the eight most-improved nameplates. Buick posts the largest improvement, followed by Chrysler, Ford, Mercury and Dodge, respectively. A majority of the most-improved models are also from domestic manufacturers, including the redesigned Ford Focus, Dodge Grand Caravan and Chevrolet Malibu.

The 2008 APEAL Study is based on responses gathered between February and May 2008 from more than 81,500 purchasers and lessees of new 2008 model-year cars and trucks who were surveyed after the first 90 days of ownership.

Find more detailed findings on new-vehicle APEAL performance as well as model photos and specs by watching a video, reading an article and reviewing APEAL ratings at JDPower.com.

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, training and customer satisfaction. The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies

Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP - News) is a leading global information services provider meeting worldwide needs in the financial services, education and business information markets through leading brands such as Standard & Poor's, McGraw-Hill Education, BusinessWeek and J.D. Power and Associates. The Corporation has more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2007 were $6.8 billion. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com.

J.D. Power and Associates Media Relations Contacts:
John Tews Syvetril Perryman
Troy, Mich. Westlake Village, Calif.
(248) 312-4119 (805) 418-8103
[email protected] [email protected]
No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates. http://www.jdpower.com/corporate

2008 Nameplate APEAL Ranking
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

Porsche 854
Jaguar 844
BMW 841
Mercedes-Benz 841
Lexus 834
Cadillac 827
MINI 823
Audi 822
Infiniti 819
Land Rover 818
Acura 807
Lincoln 802
Volkswagen 797
SAAB 792
Volvo 791
GMC 778
HUMMER 778
Scion 773
Mazda 771
Buick 770
Industry Average 770
Mitsubishi 769
Ford 768
Saturn 767
Honda 764
Nissan 763
Toyota 760
Chrysler 759
Chevrolet 757
Mercury 755
Dodge 747
Hyundai 747
Kia 744
Pontiac 737
Jeep 722
Subaru 719
Suzuki 719​

NOTE: smart is included in the study, but not ranked due to small sample size.

Top Three Models per Segment
Car Segments

Sub-Compact Car
Highest Ranked: Honda Fit
Toyota Yaris
Scion xD

Compact Car
Highest Ranked: MINI Cooper
Volkswagen Rabbit
Ford Focus

Compact Sporty Car
Highest Ranked: Volkswagen GTI/R32
Saturn SKY
Scion tC

Compact Premium Sporty Car
Highest Ranked: Porsche Cayman
Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class
Audi TT

Entry Premium Vehicle
Highest Ranked: Lexus IS 250/IS 350/IS-F
BMW 3 Series
Mercedes Benz C-Class

Midsize Premium Car
Highest Ranked: BMW 5 Series
Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Audi A6

Large Premium Car
Highest Ranked: Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Lexus LS
Jaguar XJ

Midsize Car
Highest Ranked: Volkswagen Passat
Chevrolet Malibu
Honda Accord

Large Car
Highest Ranked: Dodge Magnum
Dodge Charger
Toyota Avalon​

NOTE: There must be at least four models with sufficient sample in any given award segment for an award to be issued. In 2008, there are only two premium sporty models and three midsize sporty models with sufficient sample, thus no premium sporty and midsize sporty awards are issued.

Top Three Models per Segment
Truck / Multi-Activity Vehicle (MAV) Segments

Compact MAV
Highest Ranked: Toyota FJ Cruiser
Mazda CX-7
Nissan Rogue

Midsize MAV
Highest Ranked: Buick Enclave
Mazda CX-9
Hyundai Veracruz

Large MAV
Highest Ranked: Toyota Sequoia
Nissan Armada
Chevrolet Tahoe

Midsize Premium MAV
Highest Ranked: Porsche Cayenne
BMW X5
Audi Q7

Large Premium MAV
Highest Ranked: Land Rover Range Rover
Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
Lincoln Navigator

Large Pickup
Highest Ranked: Chevrolet Avalanche
Toyota Tundra
GMC Sierra LD

Midsize Pickup
Highest Ranked: Honda Ridgeline
Ford Explorer Sport Trac
Toyota Tacoma

Van
Highest Ranked: Honda Odyssey
Nissan Quest
Toyota Sienna



 
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