Ford Credit leads automakers' captive finance companies for customer satisfaction with its leasing practices, a new study says.
According to J.D. Power and Associates' 2005 Consumer Financing Satisfaction Study, Ford Credit finished first in satisfaction for leases of nonluxury vehicles for the fourth straight year.
Power released the annual study last month. It measures consumers' attitudes toward the vehicle financing process, both leases and loans.
Honda Financial Services generated the greatest consumer satisfaction for the way it makes loans for nonluxury vehicles, the study says. General Motors Acceptance Corp. was tops for luxury-vehicle loans.
The study examines four factors: a captive's range of finance offerings; its application and approval process; its payment and billing process; and the quality of its contacts with customers.
For last year's study, Power surveyed 27,813 new-vehicle buyers about six months after they got their loans or leases.
Ford Credit performed well above the industry average in its range of lease offerings and application and billing practices, the study says. Spokeswoman Meredith Libbey says the company "works hard with dealers to create a partnership."
Consumers lauded GMAC for its variety of payment options, reasonable financial terms, and clear and timely billing statements, Power says.
Honda Financial got the study's highest satisfaction score for its interest rates on loans for nonluxury vehicles, says David Lo, Power's manager of automotive finance.
Direct consumer lending is growing in popularity, the study concludes. More than one of every five buyers of new luxury vehicles who were surveyed said they got financing without a dealer's help, Lo says. That figure was up 8 percentage points from the 2004 survey.
"Banks, credit unions and independent (lenders) are being more aggressive and seeking out customers with direct mail and advertising," Lo told Automotive News.
In response, Lo says, captives are broadening the range of banking services they offer.
The proportion of vehicle leases relative to loans rose last year for the first time since 2000, the study says.
Adds Lo: "With interest rates inching back up, loans become a little less attractive and leasing becomes more attractive."
You may e-mail Gail Kachadourian at [email protected]