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Significant Decline in New-Vehicle Appeal for Premium Makes As Customers Expect More Technology Innovation

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Land Rover Ranks Highest among Luxury Makes; Dongfeng Yueda Kia Ranks Highest among Mass Market Makes; Beijing Hyundai Receives Four Model-Level Awards

Shanghai: 28 November 2014 — New-vehicle appeal of premium makes has significantly declined as  customer expectations for design, new features and innovative technology continue to increase, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2014 China Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) StudySM released today.

The APEAL Study, now in its 12th year, serves as the industry benchmark for new-vehicle appeal. It measures how gratifying a new vehicle is to own and drive, based on owner evaluations during the first two to six months of ownership. The study examines 82 attributes across 10 vehicle performance categories: vehicle exterior; vehicle interior; storage and space; audio/ entertainment/ navigation; seats; HVAC; driving dynamics; engine/ transmission; visibility and driving safety; and fuel economy.

The overall APEAL index score has declined for a third consecutive year, to 800 (on a 1,000-point score) in 2014 from its peak of 825 in 2011. The decline is more prominent in the luxury market (-11) than in the mass market (-3). Premium makes are having hard time satisfying a much higher customer expectation with new-vehicle appeal in such a competitive environment.

Vehicle owners are most dissatisfied with the seats and seat-related features of their new premium vehicle. Satisfaction ratings declined most for seat-related features such as how easy it is to reach and operate the seat control. Customers are also disappointed with clarity of rear seat entertainment video display and the quality of the audio bass.

The advantage for APEAL scores between owners with an installed navigation system, hands-free communication and Bluetooth technology and those without this technology installed has narrowed to 22 points in 2014 from 41 points in 2009. The installation rate of this technology in premium vehicles increased to above 80 percent from less than 60 percent in 2009.

Premium car owners have high expectations with the audio/entertainment/navigation system, hands-free communication and Bluetooth technology of their luxury vehicle. However, as the rate of installation increases, customers view this technology as commonplace. Not only do customers want their technology to work seamlessly, they want more technology breakthrough in their vehicles, which places a strain on manufacturers as they try to keep up with the pace of technology development.

“Rising consumer expectations for innovation is driving automakers to continually reach to a higher level when trying to solve the most difficult challenges,” said Dr. Mei Songlin, vice president and managing director at J.D. Power Asia Pacific. “A continuous effort to meet these expectations is the most effective way to attract and satisfy new-vehicle buyers.”

2014 China APEAL Ranking Highlights

Land Rover ranks highest among luxury makes, with a score of 850. Porsche (847) ranks second among luxury brands, and Cadillac ranks third (843).

Dongfeng Yueda Kia ranks highest among mass market makes, with a score of 842. Beijing Hyundai ranks second (837), and Volkswagen ranks third (823).

Korean makes (838) have been the highest-performing makes by country origin since 2011.

Among the 16 model-level segment awards, Beijing Hyundai (Verna, Langdong Elantra, Sonata and Tucson) receives four awards. Shanghai General Motors (Cadillac XTS and Buick Encore) and FAW-Volkswagen (Jetta and Magotan) receive two awards each. Five of the highest-ranked models (smart fortwo, Hyundai Langdong Elantra, Cadillac XTS, Buick Encore and Volvo XC60) are also award recipients in the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2014 China Initial Quality StudySM (IQS). In total, 14 vehicle segments are eligible for awards in the 2014 China APEAL Study. Models receiving segment awards are:

  • Compact Mini: smart fortwo
  • Compact: Geely Freedom Ship
  • Compact Upper: Hyundai Verna
  • Midsize Basic: Volkswagen Jetta
  • Midsize: Hyundai Langdong Elantra
  • Midsize Upper: Hyundai Sonata and Volkswagen Magotan
  • Midsize Luxury: Cadillac XTS
  • Compact SUV: Buick Encore
  • Midsize SUV: Hyundai Tucson
  • Large SUV: Toyota Land Cruiser Prado
  • Midsize Luxury SUV: Volvo XC60
  • Large Luxury SUV: Porsche Cayenne
  • Midsize MPV: Volkswagen Touran
  • Mini Van: BAIC Weiwang 306 and Wuling Rongguang

The 2014 China Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study is based on evaluations from 20,731 owners of new vehicles purchased between October 2013 and June 2014. The study analyzes models in 21 vehicle segments and includes 212 different passenger-vehicle models from 62 different brands. The study was fielded from April to August 2014 in 51 major cities across China.

Media Relations Contacts

Michelle Meng; Beijing, China; +86 01 6569 2702;

John Tews; Troy, Michigan USA; 001 248 680 6218;

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