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J.D. POWER AND ASSOCIATES' 1993 VEHICLE PERFORMANCE STUDY SHOWS THE GAP CLOSING ON ASIAN NAMEPLATES' VEHICLE PERFORMANCE LEADERSHIP AT THREE YEARS OF OWNERSHIP

 AGOURA HILLS, Calif., Feb. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- An independently funded assessment of U.S. car ownership satisfaction after three years of ownership shows that Domestic nameplates continue to close the vehicle performance gap on the Asian nameplate leaders.
 The 1993 J.D. Power and Associates Vehicle Performance Study(sm) documents the opinions of 21,634 owners of 1989 model-year cars.
 The Domestics' Vehicle Performance Index (VPI) score of 116 elevates them to within 12 points of the Asians' VPI score of 128. Each year, the Domestics have slowly closed the gap between the two origins -- from a difference of 19 points two years ago. This year's improvement in mid-life satisfaction by the Domestics is the strongest of the three nameplate origins.
 "Three years of ownership is ideal for measuring vehicle performance levels relative to owner expectations," said J.D. Power III, president and founder. "Most cars have been driven about 40,000 miles after three years and owners may now evaluate their cars with a more seasoned and objective eye. After three years, owners have strong opinions about the use of their vehicle and its various systems and functions, such as temperature control, sound system and seat adjustment mechanism."
 The Asians' lead is spearheaded for the third straight year by Acura, which ranks highest in the VPI nameplate ranking with an index score of 144. However, Acura's eight-point drop from last year's VPI score coupled with an industry average improvement of nine points over last year, suggest that consumers' opinions are shifting. The Toyota Cressida ranks as the best overall model in vehicle performance at three years of ownership.
 This year, 14 nameplates perform at or above the industry average, seven of which are Asian. Among the seven other makes, four are Domestic and three are European. All four Domestic carlines ranking at or above the industry average are divisions of General Motors.
 The study also reports that industry-wide, 20 percent of owners of 1989 model-year cars said that they "definitely would repurchase the same make." These owners said that vehicle performance at three years of ownership correlates strongly with repurchase intention. In addition to vehicle performance, intended brand loyalty is a function of several other factors, including buyer age, affordability, experience with dealer service and perceptions of competitive vehicles.
 The VPI provides an objective, competitive assessment of 88 vehicle performance aspects relative to owners' expectations at three years of ownership. Based on a statistical analysis of evaluations from the original owners of 1989 model-year cars, four measures were identified as the driving forces behind owner satisfaction with vehicle performance: Operation (e.g. transmission, absence of gear noise, radiator), Environment (e.g. temperature control, sound system), Cockpit (e.g. durability of interior materials, comfort of front seats, operation of seat adjustment mechanism) and Packaging (e.g. rear leg room, rear head room, comfort of rear seats). These four measures include owner evaluations of 30 "make or break" vehicle performance aspects.
 In all, 32 nameplates are included in the 1993 Vehicle Performance Study. Eighteen nameplates rank below the industry average. J.D. Power and Associates does not release information on nameplates ranking below the industry average.
 The Vehicle Performance Study is part of J.D. Power and Associates' owner satisfaction continuum which measures customer satisfaction from vehicle purchase through five years of ownership. Other J.D. Power and Associates annually syndicated studies include the Sales Satisfaction Study(sm), Initial Quality Study(sm), Customer Satisfaction Study(sm) and Vehicle Dependability Study(sm).
 J.D. Power and Associates is an international marketing information firm with headquarters in Agoura Hills, Calif. The firm also has offices in Detroit; Westport, Conn.; Torrance, 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- 2/18/93
 /CONTACT: Patricia A. Patano or Jim Olson of J.D. Power and Associates, 818-889-6330/


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

BR -- NYON4 -- 7661 02/18/93 08:03 EST
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Date:Feb 18, 1993
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