In this day and age, driving off the showroom floor in a brand new vehicle should be an emotionally satisfying experience filled with an air of expectancy of many kilometres of rewarding motoring, be it for pleasure or business or both. While all models carry a warranty and many also have a service or maintenance contract built in to the selling price, new owners rightfully expect to have purchased a quality product, regardless of that price. For sure, the more premium the brand, the greater the expectation – and the outlay. But the beliefs are not always well founded…
Ipsos has been commissioned since 1991 to conduct market research on behalf of the South African Automotive industry. The organisation was founded in 1975 and is now the third largest research company in the world, conducting surveys in 87 countries and employing more than 16 000 people.
Ipsos surveys are completed by vehicle buyers after +- 90 days of ownership and is based on the proportion of problems reported by owners for each 100 customers surveyed (PP100) – the lower the score the better the quality of the vehicle. The latest results show quality levels are generally impressive for both locally made and imported models, in a market where cars have become far more complex in recent years, the 2017 figure of 69 defects per 100 vehicles compares favourably to 73 in 2016 and 81 in 2015.
Participation in the survey is open to any OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) willing to supply customer names for interviewing, agreeing to the rules of syndication and a willingness to participate in the project in a transparent and open manner. ‘The South African motor industry continues to impress us each year with their ongoing motivation to improve,’ commented Patrick Busschau, the automotive director for Ipsos. ‘They keep raising the bar despite the challenging operating and commercial environments. The retail industry and the market in general are becoming increasingly complex in this information age, and customers are more demanding than ever in the consumer-driven environment in which we now live. It is a credit to all the brands who’ve been awarded Quality Awards that they have been able to continue to thrive and strive for excellence.’
There is a weighting applied where actual vehicle quality defects – genuine faults in the assembly process – have a higher impact compared to so-called ‘design defects’, which are minor issues related to the actual design of the vehicle. Both aspects do have an impact on the customer experience, and so. are important to measure.
‘Fuel consumption’ was the most common complaint from owners surveyed, in light of the sensitivity consumers feel towards the fuel price. This was the case in all but five of the 16 segments surveyed. The exceptions were ‘inadequate performance’ in the small-car segment, while ‘roadholding’ was the most common problem area reported for multi-purpose vehicles. Sport and luxury car owners complained most about ‘information system malfunction’.
The research data used in the latest Vehicle Quality Survey (VQS) was obtained from more than 7 000 customers from 16 participating brands in 2017. Namely Audi, Chevrolet, Citroën, Datsun, Ford, Honda, Infiniti, Isuzu, Lexus, Nissan, Opel, Peugeot, Renault, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo. These brands represent more than 73% of new vehicles sold through the dealership channel in South Africa.
Toyota achieved 13 Gold Awards – seven for passenger cars and six for LCVs. Volkswagen was the runner-up with eight Golds followed by Audi (5), Isuzu (3), Honda (3), Nissan (2), Opel (2) and Ford (2). More than one Gold Award was awarded in some of the categories where two or more vehicles or manufacturers qualified.
The best-rated passenger premium hatch surveyed was the Opel Adam with an exceptional score of 23. It was followed by the Honda Civic (31) and Audi A3 (32). Highest-rated recreational vehicle was the Volkswagen Touareg with a score of 10. Next best was the Toyota Rav4 (33) and Volvo XC60 (36). The Toyota Hilux with a score of 30 fared best among the LCVs. Next best was the Isuzu KB extra-cab (56), followed by the Volkswagen Amarok diesel double-cab (69).
‘Measuring perceived vehicle quality needs to be done in an holistic manner in order to keep pace with the evolving requirements and desires of customers,’ says Busschau, ‘and so, understanding as many aspects of the customers’ experiences with their chosen automotive brand has become a very important dimension of the strategy of all vehicle manufacturers. Using this information has allowed some of them to improve their offerings to customers and thus grow their commercial position in the market. It’s a win-win situation.’
Entry Level – Toyota Aygo (Gold, 44)
Compact Hatch – Toyota Yaris (Gold, 38)
Mainstream Hatch – Volkswagen Golf 7 (Gold, 21)
Premium Hatch – Opel Adam (Gold, 22)
Mainstream Sedan – Honda Civic (Gold, 31)
Premium Sedan – Audi A3 (Gold, 30)
Sport/Luxury – Audi A5 Sportback (Gold, 38)
Multi-Purpose Vehicle (MPV) – Toyota Avanza (Gold, 65)
Best Overall Passenger Car Brand – Audi (Gold, 46)
Best New Volume Passenger Car – Volkswagen Golf 7 GTi (Gold, 42)
Best Volume Passenger Car Brand – Toyota (Gold, 58)
Recreational Vehicle – Toyota Rav4 (Gold, 32)
Large Recreational Vehicle – Volkswagen Touareg (Gold, 11)
Cross-over Vehicle – Honda HR-V (Gold, 48)