June 29, 2006

Study shows new vehicle designs more appealing to customers

Westlake Village, California – Consumers continue to give new vehicle designs higher ratings, providing an edge to automakers who can turn out new designs faster, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) study released yesterday.

The study, now in its 11th year, measures owner delight with the design, content, layout and performance of their new vehicles. The study found that all-new models, or models that have undergone a major redesign, generally received higher-than-average APEAL scores. Models with higher scores tend to have more satisfied owners, sell more quickly and generate more profit.

Carryover models – those with virtually no changes from 2005 – had slightly lower than average scores, as did models that only received a “freshening” from the previous year.

“The importance of product development efforts by the OEMs can’t be overstated,” says Chance Parker, executive director of product research and analysis for J.D. Power and Associates. “On one hand, new designs are clearly better able to stand out in an increasingly crowded market. They tend to sell faster and generate more profit. On the other hand, minor improvements seem to go almost unnoticed. All in all, OEMs may be better served to stop spending money on many mid-cycle freshening efforts, and redirect those dollars for more dramatic redesigns.”

The Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Azera, Lexus IS, Porsche Cayman, Ford Fusion and Infiniti M-Series, all of them new or redesigned models for 2006, each ranked highest in their segments.

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