VERONA, Italy – German carmakers took the top three spots in Italy’s second annual dealer satisfaction survey.
French and domestic carmakers continued to disappoint their Italian dealers. None of them scored in the top 16 of 32 brands surveyed.
The survey ranks only the best-performing 16 brands and not the bottom 16.
Like last year, Porsche was best liked by franchise dealers, although its overall satisfaction index slipped slightly to 3.60 this year from 3.75 in 2004. The survey ranks on a numeric scale with 5 being the top score.
Mini, which was unranked last year, jumped to No. 2 this year, barely edging parent BMW. Both brands finished with a score of 3.58, with Mini being a few thousandths of a point better. BMW’s satisfaction
index rose to 3.58 from 3.29 last year.
Italian research company Quintegia conducted the survey, which was released during for the third annual the Dealer Day held here. The survey was answered by 952 dealers, 27 percent of the country’s total.
Room for improvement
“The results are really interesting because you never find a franchise that clearly stands out in all 20 of the categories surveyed,” said Giuseppe Volpato, professor of industrial economics at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice and senior advisor to the International Car Distribution Program.
Overall, the survey shows muted dealer enthusiasm. Even the top-ranking manufacturers didn’t come close to a perfect score of 5.
“Dealers praised their franchise for what they really like, but gave low marks for what they do not like,” Volpato said.
Porsche was tops in just three of the 20 categories surveyed, but got enough high marks in the other items to finish No. 1 overall. By comparison, No. 7 Volvo was tops in four areas but did poorly in many others.
German-owned brands hold the top 3 spots but Volkswagen, Audi, Smart and Mercedes- Benz all finished in the bottom 16.
Asian brands took 5 of the top 16 spots in the poll led by No. 4 Mazda.
Just as in 2004, no French or Italian brand placed in the top 16.
The survey revealed that area in which manufactures need to improve most is communications.
“Listening to dealer suggestions is the only area where even the most satisfactory franchise scored below average, which is 3 points,” said Leonardo Buzzavo, lecturer in business strategy and international marketing at Ca’ Foscari.
Buzzavo said dealers are also unhappy about their carmaker-certified used car programs, with only five brands scoring above average.
Dealers rated Kia as the franchise that added the most value last year and the one that will increase in value this year.
Last year, Kia increased sales in Italy 49.3 percent to 24,265 units and predicts bigger growth this year, up 65 percent to 40,000 units.
Alfa Romeo was the only Italian brand to score a first place – in product availability and delivery time – perhaps because all models are built in Italy. Fiat and Lancia finished third and sixth in the category.