September 10, 2002

Michelin tops in tires again: J.D. Power

Westlake Village, California – According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2002 Original Equipment Tire Satisfaction Study released on Monday, Michelin ranks highest in passenger vehicle original equipment tire satisfaction for the fifth year in a row, and highest in light truck OE tire satisfaction for the third straight year.

The study, based on the experiences and opinions of more than 33,700
consumers in their first three years of new-vehicle ownership, reports on how satisfied consumers are with their OE tires-the tires that came with their new vehicle at the time of purchase.

The study monitors consumer perceptions regarding tire quality, performance, brand image and service. Study results are calculated using a tire satisfaction index, which includes five factors: product quality; long-term performance; situational performance; design; and winter traction.

Michelin achieves the highest tire index score among passenger vehicle owners, which includes both cars and compact vans, with segment-leading marks for product quality, long-term performance, design and winter traction. Toyo, Pirelli and Continental follow Michelin in the
passenger vehicle segment rankings.

In the light truck tire segment, Michelin shows significant year-over-year improvement in its tire satisfaction index score, driven by significant year-over-year increases in the product quality and situational performance factors. Yokohama, Goodyear and Uniroyal follow Michelin in the light truck tire segment, respectively. The light truck segment includes pickups, SUVs and full-size vans.

“While the typical product cycle for a vehicle is five years, the product cycle for original equipment tires is only two years on average,” said Jeff Zupancic, director of the tire practice at J.D. Power and Associates.

“Given the higher frequency of product cycles for OE tires, the success of tire manufacturers in the OE market is largely dependent on the robustness of their research and development and manufacturing processes, areas in which Michelin seems to be performing very well.

Michelin has the lowest percentage of owners reporting a tire problem in the first year of ownership. Among year-one owners, more than 60 percent report that they intend to repurchase Michelin tires in the future, the highest repurchase intention of all tire brands.

“Maintaining higher customer satisfaction is key to tire manufacturers
because there is a strong positive relationship between satisfaction and repurchase intention in the aftermarket,” Zupancic said. “Those tire brands that have the highest levels of customer satisfaction also have the highest percentage of customers who report that they intend to buy that same tire brand in the future.”

The study finds that one out of five owners experience a tire problem in their first year of ownership, with 12 percent of owners having to replace one or more tires. Consistent with previous studies, the most commonly reported problem among all tire brands is punctures.

“Over the past decade, tire manufacturers have invested significantly in new technology and designs such as self-sealing tires, run-flat tires, and other extended mobility-based systems to address this leading source of tire problems,” Zupancic said. “With consumer interest in run-flat tires at an all-time high, it will be interesting to assess consumer acceptance of the latest generation of extended mobility systems, such as Michelin’s PAX system and Continental’s Conti Safety Ring system, which are scheduled to be introduced into the original equipment market within the next year or two.”

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