Chevrolet, Honda top auto brands in China

04 August 2010

BEIJING: Chevrolet, Honda and Peugeot are among the auto brands that enjoy the best reputations with Chinese consumers, a study has found.

JD Power, the consultancy, assessed the views of 11,678 people who had bought a new vehicle from 52 carmakers since February 2008.

More specifically, it asked respondents to use a 1,000-point scale to rate their experience during and after the purchase process.

Chevrolet, which is run by Shanghai General Motors - a joint venture formed by GM and a local partner - claimed top spot in the rankings on 875 points.

Guangqi Honda took second on 874 points, ahead of Dongfeng Honda in third on 871 points, indicating the overall strength of the Japanese firm.

Roewe was the leading domestic marque on 869 points, and had climbed from sixteenth position in the same survey last year.

Dongfeng Peugeot completed the top five and confirmed the dominance of foreign enterprises in China.

All of these manufacturers generated improvements on each the metrics tracked by JD Power, which included the quality of the advice customers received and the facilities provided.

Luxury brands outperformed the norm, registering an average score of 849 points, against 817 points for mass-market brands.

Companies in the premium sector typically saw scores rise by eight points year-on-year, while their less exclusive counterparts posted an uptick of just one point.

Audi and Lexus were the high-end specialists receiving the most favourable ratings from consumers, both recording figures of 861 points.

In terms of seeking guidance on a potential acquisition, 22% of shoppers had waited to speak with an advisor for mass-market cars, down from 28% in 2009, showing that service had got better.

However, a quarter of buyers interested in expensive models, such as those made by Lexus, said they had done the same, as a surge in demand resulted in longer queues.

“Historically, service customers have perceived premium vehicle brands to be the market leaders in delivering high-quality customer experiences,” said Mei Songlin, general manager, research at JD Power Asia Pacific, Shanghai.

“When mass-market brand dealers place the proper focus on customer service and take steps toward dealer network building and implementation of customer service systems, they can also achieve these high levels of customer satisfaction.”

In Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities, personal relationships are essential, as the target audience frequently opts for non-authorised dealers as they knew a member of staff working there.

Across China as a whole, a third of people that picked up a car from a manufacturer with at least 834 points said they would “definitely” recommend the company concerned to their peers.

This was twice the total of the lowest-scoring firms, a pattern broadly repeated when it came to repurchase intent.

Previous research from JD Power has found that auto shows and the web are the channels which most encourage brand consideration, while negative word of mouth has a similar role in dissuading shoppers.

Data sourced from JD Power; additional content by Warc staff