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J.D. POWER AND ASSOCIATES REPORTS VEHICLE SATISFACTION AT FIVE YEARS OWNERSHIP IMPACTED BY FREQUENCY AND SEVERITY OF PROBLEMS

 AGOURA HILLS, Calif., April 6 /PRNewswire/ -- J.D. Power and Associates released findings today from its 1993 Vehicle Dependability Study(SM), an independently funded assessment of the incidence and severity of owner-reported problems at five years of ownership. The study, based on responses from 22,128 original owners of 1988 model-year cars, tracks 89 vehicle problem types in 12 problem categories.
 Key findings from the study reveal that the problems with the greatest impact on vehicle satisfaction fall under the categories of Engine, Transmission and Interior.
 "Winning long-term customer loyalty requires more than just building cars with low problem incidence," said J.D. Power III, president and founder, J.D. Power and Associates. "The types and severity of certain problems matter even more, according to owners surveyed in the Vehicle Dependability Study."
 Out of the 12 problem categories evaluated, Asian carlines have the fewest owner-reported problems in five categories: Interior, Electrical and Accessories, Temperature Control, Engine and Water Leaks. The Europeans lead in the Exterior Paint and Molding category and tie the Asian nameplates with the fewest owner-reported problems in the Wind Noise category. The Domestics exhibit an advantage in five categories: Transmission, Steering and Handling, Brakes, Body and Squeaks and Rattles. According to owners of 1988 model-year cars, the Domestics also achieved the most significant improvement in any of the problem categories, registering a 24 percent improvement in the Engine category.
 "In the 1990s, we have entered a market where loyalty and repurchase intentions matter more than ever to both manufacturers and automotive retailers," said Power. "There is evidence that consumers excuse minor vehicle problems, but there is the likelihood that they will penalize those brands with severe problems or problems not easily corrected at the dealership."
 Elaborating, Power added that between 1988 and 1992, the overall market share for Domestic car nameplates, for instance, dropped 5.7 percentage points. But those Domestic nameplates in the Vehicle Dependability Study ranking above the industry average increased market share by 0.8 percentage points. The Domestic carlines ranking below the industry average in the study lost 6.5 percentage points of the market share. "That seven-point gap in market share points spells the difference between profit and loss -- and winning and losing," according to Power.
 J.D. Power and Associates measures the quality gap between the Domestics, Asians and Europeans by evaluating problems per 100 vehicles at two critical periods: 90 days and five years of ownership. Domestics experienced 11 percent more problems than Asian carlines when 1988 model-year cars were new. However, at five years of ownership, domestic car owners report only 2 percent more problems than the Asians. European carlines had 51 percent more problems than the Asian leaders at 90 days of ownership; however, that gap narrows to 17 percent more problems than the Asians' after five years of ownership.
 Mercedes-Benz was ranked by its owners the best overall carline in vehicle dependability, registering a Vehicle Dependability Index (VDI) score of 163. The VDI is based on the frequency and severity of owner-reported problems with their vehicles at five years of ownership.
 Acura, the top Asian nameplate, ranked second with an index score of 160. Rounding out the nameplates ranking at or above the industry average are Cadillac (151), Porsche (145), Toyota (139), Lincoln (137), Honda (133), Nissan (128), Buick (123), Oldsmobile (121), Mercury (117), Volvo (112). Eighteen nameplates ranked below the industry average of 110.
 At the model level, the Toyota Cressida was ranked the best model in vehicle dependability, with an index score of 192. Rounding out the top five 1988 models are the Cadillac Seville (177), Mercury Grand Marquis (175), Mercedes-Benz 190-D/E (167), and the Cadillac Eldorado (166).
 The Vehicle Dependability Study is part of J.D. Power and Associates' owner satisfaction continuum which measures satisfaction from vehicle purchase through five years of ownership. In all, 30 nameplates and 154 models are included in the 1993 Vehicle Dependability Study. Other J.D. Power and Associates annually syndicated studies include the Initial Quality Study(SM) (Release: May 1993), Sales Satisfaction Study(SM) (Release: June 1993), Customer Satisfaction Study(SM) (Release: July 1993), and Vehicle Performance Study(SM) (Released: February 1993). J.D. Power and Associates does not release rankings of nameplates or models falling below the industry average.
 J.D. Power and Associates is an international marketing information firm with headquarters in Agoura Hills. The firm also has offices in Detroit; Westport, Conn., Torrance, Calif.; Palo Alto, Calif.; and Tokyo. J.D. Power and Associates is best known for its marketing information and consulting in the areas of consumer opinion and customer satisfaction.
 -0- 4/6/93
 /CONTACT: Patricia A. Patano or James T. Olson of J.D. Power and Associates, 818-889-6330/


CO: J.D. Power and Associates ST: California IN: AUT SU:

BP-JB -- LA014 -- 3475 04/06/93 13:33 EDT
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Date:Apr 6, 1993
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