Vehicle interior is the greatest contributor towards customer satisfaction with vehicle appeal among 10 overall vehicle components, according to the J.D. Power 2017 Thailand Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, released late December.
The relative importance of interior design and comfort elements in overall owner satisfaction with their new vehicle has increased this year from 2016. Vehicle interior includes the evaluation of a range of design elements, such as the instrument cluster and ambient lighting; comfort aspects such as cabin quietness, smell; and soft-touch interior parts, such as arm rests and door panels. Perceived quality and color coordination of interior materials are also essential elements.
“As new-vehicle buyers increasingly spend longer periods of time in their vehicle due to lengthier commutes, customer expectations with regard to interior design, specifically comfort, grow,” said Siros Satrabhaya, Country Manager at J.D. Power. “For example, interior quietness is of utmost importance, as it is one of the lowest-rated attributes across vehicle segments. Additionally, passenger car owners complain about the lack of comfort in resting their arms while driving. Brands that address these customer requirements will likely see an increase in satisfaction.”
Overall satisfaction averages 908 points (on a 1,000-point scale) in 2017, up from 901 in 2016, with scores in all vehicle segments except compact SUV improving year over year. Satisfaction also improves across all vehicle components, particularly in seats (+11 points) and driving dynamics (+10 points).
Following are some of the key findings of the study:
Exterior styling remains a key purchase driver: Nearly one in four customers (24 percent) cite exterior styling as the main reason for purchasing their new vehicle, followed by vehicle performance (19 percent), previous experience with the brand (10 percent) and good fuel efficiency (10 percent).
Audio/ Entertainment/ Navigation system design requires improvement: Navigation and audio system-related attributes are among the lowest rated, notably the ability of the navigation system to provide a desirable route and its ease of operation, as well as quality of bass and sound clarity at high volumes.
Toyota receives four APEAL awards: the Vios (900 points) in the entry midsize car segment; the Fortuner (927) in the large SUV segment; the Hilux Revo Prerunner Smart Cab (914) in the extended cab pickup segment; and the Hilux Revo Prerunner D-Cab (923) in the double cab pickup segment.
Suzuki receives the award in the compact car segment for the Ciaz (897). Honda receives the award in the midsize car segment for the Civic (926). Mazda receives the award for the CX-3 (915) in the compact SUV segment.
The 2017 Thailand APEAL Study is based on responses from 4,866 new-vehicle owners who purchased their vehicle from November 2016 through July 2017. The study covers 12 brands that include 76 passenger car, pickup truck and utility vehicle models. The study is an owner-reported measure of what satisfies owners in Thailand regarding their new vehicle’s performance and design during the first two to six months of ownership.