January 13, 2003

Survey shows BMW owners most delighted with their vehicles

San Diego, California – Strategic Vision, a U.S. research organization, has created a new Total Delight Index (TDI).

“Delight is a more positive and more emotional response than simply excellent,” said Dr. Darrel Edwards, Strategic Vision president. “You can create an excellent vehicle without delighting the customer. When you do delight your customer, you create a strong emotional response that commits the customer to the product, brand or manufacturer. That leads to loyalty, when the customer chooses the brand whenever possible.”

The highest scorer on the index was the 2002 BMW 7 Series. Its 3 Series and X5 also led their segments, as did the Mini Cooper. Honda also had four leaders in the Insight, Accord Coupe, Odyssey and CR-V.

Toyota showed its muscle in truck categories, with Sequoia, Tacoma and Tundra heading their classes. The Japanese manufacturer had no leaders in car categories.

Among domestics, the Chrysler PT Cruiser was the most delightful compact car, according to those who bought it. General Motors had two leaders in about-to-be-discontinued vehicles: the Oldsmobile Aurora and Pontiac Firebird. Ford had no vehicles leading their segments.

“The auto industry talks a lot about ‘delighting your customers,’ says Daniel Gorrell, Strategic Vision vice president and partner-in-charge, automotive, “but nobody had created a means of explicitly measuring this facet. Creating delight is critical to all manufacturers forced to intensively compete in a crowded market place. For some, creating delight is crucial or they face the risk of losing market share or even going out of business.”

The index was calculated from the responses of more than 76,665 new vehicle 2002-model owners who made their purchases between October 2001 and March of 2002. They had at least 90 days to experience their vehicles before they were surveyed.

Top two delight leaders in their segments and their respective TDI scores were:

Small Car Honda Insight 593; Suzuki Aerio 569
Compact Car Chrysler PT Cruiser 587; Volkswagen Jetta 560
Mid-Size Car Volkswagen Pass at 651; Nissan Altima 620
Larger Car Oldsmobile Aurora 515; Chrysler Concorde 485
Small Specialty (less than $25k) Mini Cooper 705; Volkswagen New Beetle 697
Mid-Specialty Car Honda Accord Coupe 601; Mercury Cougar 578
Near-Luxury Car BMW 3 Series 695; Lexus ES 300 686
Luxury Car BMW 7 Series 775; BMW 5 Series 764
Convertible (less than $30,000) Pontiac Firebird 638; Chevrolet Camaro 577
Convertible (more than $30,000) Audi TT 760; Lexus SC 430 751
Minivan Honda Odyssey 458; Kia Sedona 452
Small SUV Honda CR-V 542; Hyundai Santa Fe 536
Medium SUV Land Rover Discovery Series II 537; GMC Envoy 532
Large SUV Toyota Sequoia 602; Ford Excursion 559
Luxury SUV BMW X5 710; Cadillac Escalade 681
Compact Pickup Toyota Tacoma 464; Dodge Dakota 459
Full-Size Pickup Toyota Tundra 581; Dodge Ram 1500 570

The Total Delight Index concentrates on the product experience, while the firm’s Total Quality Index considers both product and dealership experience. TDI focuses on a “top box” response of “delightful” in Strategic Vision’s survey. This makes the calculation more sensitive to the intensity of the emotional response necessary to create buyer commitment and loyalty.

Scores record the responses of people who actually bought the vehicle. “Some of the winners have been controversial among auto experts,” says Gorrell. “But people who were turned off by some feature probably ruled out a particular vehicle. The key for manufacturers is to know your target and delight your customers.”

Retro vehicles scored well in the survey. Mini Cooper and PT Cruiser headed their segments, while the Volkswagen New Beetle was second.

Strategic Vision annually releases results of its Total Quality Index that gauges owner satisfaction of the complete ownership experience. In addition, it calculates the Total Value Index that measures Total Quality against all the economic factors of ownership, and the Problem Impact Measure that assesses the impact vehicle defects have on satisfaction.

Strategic Vision is issuing its Total Delight Index at the beginning of the 2003 auto show circuit to draw attention to automotive excellence as reported by the true experts – automotive buyers. Edwards, an internationally recognized expert in decision-making and the impact of consumer emotional responses, has been developing the scale and leverage analyses associated with delight since 1995.

Founded in 1986, Strategic Vision studies consumer and constituent decision-making on a variety of topics in diverse industries. Clients have included all auto manufacturers, Coca-Cola, American Airlines, Met Life, Procter and Gamble, and leading pharmaceutical companies.

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