BEIJING -- J.D. Power and Associates released its first surveys of auto customers in China last week, and the results were bad news for General Motors and Ford Motor Co.
Japanese brands scored well. GM ranked first by itself in only one category, after-sales service, which was won by Buick. No Ford brand won a category.
The results are important because happy drivers are more likely to recommend a model to friends and family, and that kind of advice plays a big role in buying decisions in China.
According to J.D. Power, 61 percent of new buyers consider friends and relatives an information source when buying a new car. "In an increasingly competitive market like China, understanding quality from a consumer-perception standpoint is a must," says John Humphrey, managing director of J.D. Power's China operations.
Japanese brands dominated Powers' APEAL study, which measures the attributes - such as styling, interior trim, engine, ride and handling, and sound system - that most please customers two to six months after purchase.
In the premium mid-sized car segment, which includes the Buick Regal and Ford Mondeo, the top three models in the APEAL study were the Honda Accord, Mazda6 and Nissan Bluebird.
The Toyota Corolla ran away with the mid-sized car segment, which includes Shanghai GM's Buick Excelle. Two Volkswagen models ranked second and third.
The Buick GL-8 shared first place in the MPV segment with the Honda Odyssey.
Japanese brands also fared well in the initial quality study, which measures reported problems in the first two to six months of ownership.
Audi ranked first in the sales satisfaction index, which asks customers about their initial impressions of a dealership in areas such as product presentation, price negotiation and vehicle delivery.
GM sold 263,853 cars in China in 2004, grabbing 10.9 percent of the passenger-car market, according to consulting firm Automotive Resources Asia of Shanghai. GM had 9.8 percent of the 2003 market.
Japanese brands accounted for 15.1 percent of the market in 2004. Honda led with 8.7 percent. Japanese carmakers' market share grew by 4 percentage points in 2004 over 2003.
Passenger-car sales in China rose 16 percent to 2.4 million units in 2004 compared with 2003.
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