We’ve talked about the growing new car prices on a number of occasions but we need to bring that topic back again. The situation isn't expected to normalize until late next year and this time around, a new study from J.D. Power shines more light on customer satisfaction with vehicle purchases in the United States - and that number drops for the first time in more than 10 years. There are some clear winners in the study but overall, the industry sees a decline compared to last year’s results.
When prices of new cars started to go up in 2021, customer satisfaction was kept high thanks to the higher-than-expected trade-in values. However, the situation continues to escalate this year and the new-vehicle inventories are at record low levels. This, in turn, enables dealers to charge higher rates than MSRP, which drives the satisfaction index down. J.D. Power says that the index for fairness of price has been declining steadily in the last several years.
Regardless of the market condition, there have always been winners and losers. Alfa Romeo tops the study in the premium segment this year with a satisfaction score of 833, reasonably above the industry’s average of 786. Porsche ranks second with a score of 831, while Lexus comes third with a score of 819. In the mainstream segment, Buick ranks first with a score of 825, followed by Dodge (816) and Subaru (804), all performing higher than the industry’s average.
In general, J.D. Power’s study concludes that – and this shouldn’t really come as a surprise – customers are happier when they pay less. Satisfaction among buyers who paid more than the sticker price is 757, while satisfaction among those who paid the sticker price is significantly higher at 850. About a quarter of the mass market customers paid more than MSRP, while that percentage drops to 19 percent in the premium sector.
As for the best-performing brand in this study, Alfa Romeo seems to be doing a good job of keeping its customers happy in times of high new car prices and slow deliveries. With refreshed and new products coming soon, the trend is likely to continue – and the expected supercar announcement in 2023 will surely help with the marque’s image.