Deluge of recalls dings auto customer satisfaction as Lexus earns ACSI’s top spot – USA TODAY
A record year of recalls took a heavy toll on customer satisfaction with the auto industry, according to a new study.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index reported Tuesday that its gauge for car-buyer satisfaction fell to 79 on a 100-point scale in 2015 from 82 last year.
The 3.7% drop was fueled by concerns over the massive increase in recalls throughout the auto industry since early 2014.
General Motors recalled more vehicles in 2014 than it ever had after discovering numerous quality issues, including an ignition-switch defect that triggered a cascade of government investigations, fines and recalls.
Earlier this year, Fiat Chrysler agreed to the largest fine in the history of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration after the regulatory agency accused the company of flubbing fixes and flouting recall reporting requirements.
And Honda has been embroiled in a crisis over its connections to airbag supplier Takata, whose problems have triggered the largest recall in U.S. history, affecting many major automakers beyond just Honda.
Other automakers have also experienced major recalls.
Taken together, the recalls are starting to irk customers, ACSI found. Nonetheless, U.S. vehicle sales are expected to top 17 million units in 2015 for the first time since before the Great Recession of 2008, suggesting that disdain for recalls may not be levying a substantive effect on sales.
Still, car buyers are disappointed over the quality issues — and rising prices, too.
“While it is true that all cars are now much better than they were 10 to 20 years ago, it is alarming that so many of them have quality problems,” ACSI chairman Claes Fornell said in a statement.
Of the 27 brands ACSI tracks, only two improved from a year ago: BMW, which rose from 80 to 82, and Acura, which surged from 77 to 83.
The Lexus brand, Toyota’s luxury nameplate, seized the top spot on the list with an unchanged score of 84. Despite a huge surge in sales, last year’s leading brand, Subaru, fell back from 85 to 82, still good enough to tie with BMW for the fifth slot.
Fiat Chrysler had a dismal showing. Three of its brands occupied the bottom three spots, with Jeep at 75, Chrysler at 74 and Fiat at 73.
The numbers are based on an ACSI survey of 4,294 people in the second quarter of 2015.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.