Detroit Losing Ground to Imports, New Consumer Survey Finds |

Detroit Losing Ground to Imports, New Consumer Survey Finds

Just the Facts:
  • A report by the American Customer Satisfaction Index shows U.S. auto brands losing ground to imports.
  • The highest rated domestic brands are Cadillac and GMC, while the lowest are Jeep, Chevrolet and Dodge.
  • Mercedes-Benz is the new leader in the index.

ANN ARBOR, Michigan — After a number of years of improving quality, U.S. automobile manufacturers are once again losing ground to the imports, according to a new report by the American Customer Satisfaction Index.

Industry-wide customer satisfaction with cars and light trucks was down 1.2 percent from 2012, according to the report. But of the eight brands above the industry average, only two are domestic, Cadillac and GMC, while the three lowest-rated brands are all from U.S.-based manufacturers: Jeep, Dodge and Chevrolet.

As in past years, the survey found that luxury brands and some Japanese nameplates tended to have the highest level of customer satisfaction. A score of 88 put Mercedes at the top of the list, followed closely by Lexus at 87. Tied for 3rd place were Honda, Subaru and Toyota with a score of 86. This year's industry-wide satisfaction average was 83 percent.

The highest-rated brands from a domestic manufacturer were Cadillac, in 6th place with a score of 85 (down 1 percent from 2012), and GMC, which also scored 85 (up 6 percent).

The Ford nameplate scored 83, the same as 2012, tied for 9th place on the list with Acura, Nissan and Chrysler (up 6 percent from the prior year). Buick came in at 82, down 6 percent, tied for 13th place with BMW, Hyundai, Kia and Mazda.

At the bottom of the list, Jeep received a score of 80, down 4 percent from the previous year, while Chevy and Dodge each scored 79, down 6 percent and 2 percent, respectively. Lincoln, last year's winner, stopped being measured because of low market share.

The study found that the gap in customer satisfaction between U.S. and import brands is the widest in five years. This despite the fact that sales of both domestic and import vehicles have been on the upswing.

Interestingly, strong sales may account for the dip in quality ratings for the Detroit Three.

With sales increasing, "U.S. automakers may be stretched too thin, ramping up production to meet rising demand," said ACSI Director David VanAmburg in a statement. "At more than full capacity, it is not unexpected that quality may be giving way to quantity. This could become problematic once demand slackens, making further sales growth more challenging unless customer satisfaction improves."

Every year since 1994 the ACSI has surveyed more than 70,000 consumers to determine their level of satisfaction with a variety of products manufactured by 230 companies in 43 industries.

For the 2013 automotive report, the organization conducted telephone interviews with 4,078 customers, chosen at random and contacted via telephone and e-mail between April 6 and May 22, 2013. Questions covered not only the vehicles themselves, but also purchase price, service and other factors.

Edmunds says: The perception of lower quality could be a cautionary tale for the future for Detroit.


  • lions208487 lions208487 Posts:

    Since when is this news?

  • "Lincoln, last year's winner, stopped being measured because of low market share." This is not good news. I would like to see Lincoln succeed and start gaining market share. They were well liked and respected when I was growing up. I don't mind Lincolns that share parts and platforms with Fords, but their cars need to be strong, handsome and compelling with competitive performance, quality and attention to detail. There is more in common between Audi and Volkswagen models than many people realize and yet Audi has earned respect, market share and the status of a premium luxury brand. Lincoln should be able to do the same. I hope they do.

  • unionbuster unionbuster Posts:

    Perception is reality.

  • stovt001_ stovt001_ Posts:

    I had the thought that the upswing in sales might be related to the decline in quality perception, but not for the reason given in the article. Until the past few years domestic cars were really bought, aside from fleets, by loyalists willing to overlook the quality problems. The quality has gone up, no doubt, but now they're also being looked at by consumers used to 90s and early 2000s era Toyota and Honda quality. They won't be as easy going as the domestic brand loyalists.

  • joe_scuba joe_scuba Posts:

    Funny that so many of the US name plates import many of their cars and trucks from Mexico and Canada and more of the Import brands are building their products here. If its okay for Eord, GM and Chrysler to sell imported vehicles then it is okay if I buy an import brand made here. or just buy an import. US car companies have not been loyal to their customers this problem has existed for decades and just when they act like they are going to change, back to the same ol' thing

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