J.D.'S BIG SURPRISE - Scores in the J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study, complaints per 100 new vehicles sold, could double next month. The Agoura Hills, Calif., research firm has deleted some questions and added others. The result: 135 questions on the new form, compared with 89 queries on the old form. 'There are loads of new technologies and features - antilock brakes, airbags, navigation systems, cupholders,' says Chance Parker, director of product research. The revamp could skew scores and affect marketing campaigns.
BUICK AND WNBA - The Buick Regal GS will remain the official car and a primary sponsor of the Women's National Basketball Association during its second full season this summer. Buick also will sponsor a basketball shoot-out between families and help promote the Detroit Shock, a WNBA expansion team. Karen Ebben, Buick's marketing services manager, said the profile of women who watch WNBA games matches the profile of the Regal's target buyer.
MIDWESTERNERS ARE MOST LOYAL - The Midwest has the most loyal car owners, drivers who repurchase the same brand. Where are the least loyal buyers? The South and the West Coast, according to new-vehicle registrations taken from more than 4 million households reviewed by Polk, a Detroit marketing firm, in 1997. The most loyal designated market area is Lima, Ohio, with a 60.6 percent retention rate. San Francisco has the lowest rate, 33.8 percent. Owners of domestic vehicles tend to be more loyal than owners of Asian and European brands. The national brand retention rate is 44.3 percent.
CARS AND CHARITY - BMW donated $1 million last month to the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. Each dollar represents one mile driven last year by volunteers who used a fleet of 16 BMWs. BMW announced that it would raise another $1 million for the foundation next year. Meanwhile, Subaru will sponsor a party and silent auction next month for film star Paul Newman's Hole-in-the-Wall Gang Camp. It is a free summer camp for children with cancer or serious blood diseases. Subaru will donate two sport-utilities to the auction.