Singapore – More than half of repeat car buyers in India are moving up to a vehicle that is either larger or more expensive than the last one they purchased, according to a new study by J.D. Power and Associates.

One-third of repeat buyers who move up select a premium compact car, mainly due to the fact that nearly half of all repeat buyers in India previously owned less-expensive compact models.

“Vehicle ownership has always been a tangible sign of progression in India,” said Mohit Arora, executive director of J.D. Power Asia Pacific. “The growing demand for a larger or more expensive vehicle amongst Indian owners reflects their rising aspirations. Currently, those owners who aspire to upgrade their vehicles have more options available to them, with new makes and models launching in all vehicle segments. This growth further fuels consumer demand.”

The study measures buyer satisfaction with vehicles, based on vehicle exterior and interior, storage and space, audio/entertainment/navigation, seats, HVAC, driving dynamics, engine/transmission, visibility and driving safety, and fuel economy. Satisfaction with new-vehicle design and performance in 2011 averages 829 on a 1,000-point scale, up from 817 in 2010. Overall, the industry improved across all categories, with the largest improvement occurring in fuel economy.

The study also found that newly-launched models garner higher satisfaction ratings with customers in India, compared with refreshed or carryover models.

“Launching exciting models with the latest features is crucial for winning over today’s demanding customer,” Arora said. “With manufacturers placing increasing focus on quality and design, owners of newly-launched models also experience fewer problems, which enhances their satisfaction with their vehicles.”

Two Maruti Suzuki models, the Alto and Estilo, ranked highest in the compact segment with a tie of 844 points each. The Toyota Corolla Altis ranked highest in the premium midsize car segment, with a score of 864, while the Toyota Innova ranked highest in the MUV/MPV segment for a fifth consecutive year. In the SUV segment, the Ford Endeavor ranked the highest with a score of 877, the highest of any vehicle in 2011. The newly-launched Nissan Micra ranked highest in the premium compact segment. Other high-ranking vehicles were the Swift DZire, which topped the entry-level midsize car segment, and the newly-launched Hyundai Verna in the midsize segment.

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