Dealerships Turn Off Buyers
More than one-fourth of the people who walked out of a new-vehicle dealership without buying said they did so mainly because they didn't like the way the salesperson handled their business, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2003 Sales Satisfaction Index Study.
Power said in a statement that the 2003 Sales Satisfaction Index Study is based on more than 40,000 responses from buyers and lessees of new 2002 and 2003 model cars and light trucks. The study occurred in April and May of 2003.
"While satisfaction scores have improved overall, the study finds relatively little evidence that dealers as a whole have improved the actual processes with which they interact with customers," said Chris Denove, partner at J.D. Power and Associates. "Dealers and manufacturers are sometimes under the false impression that customers are truly committed to a certain model. However, approximately one-half of the shoppers who leave a dealership because they didn't like the way the dealer handled their business don't make the effort to purchase from another dealer selling the same brand. Instead, they simply walk across the street to purchase an entirely different brand."
The study finds that customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle sales process has improved slightly over 2002, primarily due to the expanded use of lower interest loans for longer terms and a significant decline in complaints about dealers' lack of vehicle availability. Buyers who took out a traditional loan paid lower interest rates (averaging 4.8 percent in 2003 vs. 5.5 percent in 2002) and financed their vehicle for a longer term (58 months in 2003 vs. 55 months in 2002). As a result, the average monthly vehicle loan payment in 2003 is $427, down from $441 in 2002.
"On average, customers are facing a win-win situation when shopping for a new vehicle this year," said Denove. "Buyers are less likely to have to compromise on options or color because dealers have more vehicles in stock. Financing options are better than ever, with nearly one in 10 loans paying zero-percent interest, and more than one-half paying a below-market interest rate subsidized by the manufacturer."
Cadillac ranks highest in sales satisfaction in 2003, improving eight index points over 2002. Cadillac performs consistently well across all measures of satisfaction, which include the dealership facility, working with the salesperson, paperwork/financing process, delivery process and vehicle price.
Ford Pickup Sets Guinness World Record
A Ford SVT F-150 Lightning was certified as the "World's Fastest Production Pickup Truck" by Guinness World Records, Ltd. after reaching 147 miles per hour at Ford's test track, the company said in a press release.
"We're proud to have certification from Guinness World Records," says Tom Scarpello, Ford SVT marketing and sales manager. "It is a well-deserved record for the engineering team, and overdue confirmation to all the SVT F-150 Lightning owners out there who have known for years that they drive the fastest truck on the planet!"
The record run was conducted on the Michigan Proving Grounds of Motor Company on a five-mile-long, high-speed oval.
"This may seem like fun and games, but high-speed stability is critical for a performance vehicle, even a pickup truck," says Tom Chapman, Ford SVT chassis systems supervisor and driver for the record-setting run. "The SVT F- 150 Lightning is just as stable and planted at 147 miles per hour as it is at 55 mph; only the scenery's going by faster. That stability is a testament to the solid foundation of the , and the performance engineering found in Ford SVT products."
For the record, Guinness requires the truck to be production level, meaning it is identical to what a customer can find at his local Ford SVT dealer. Speeds must be measured over a kilometer, and the record speed is derived from an average of speeds in both directions.
To meet the vehicle requirements, Ford SVT said it used a stock 2003 Ford SVT F- 150 Lightning. Exterior modifications were limited to folding in the side mirrors, and removing the radio antenna.
To meet timing requirements, Ford SVT conducted the test on Ford's Michigan Proving Ground high-speed oval. Timing lights were set up seven-tenths of a mile apart (as certified by an independent surveyor). A Hot Lap In-Car Timer, from Longacre Racing Products, was used to measure elapsed time through the measured 0.7 mile. Elapsed time was then converted to miles per hour.
Clockwise, the fastest elapsed time was 17.03 seconds, or 147.974 mph. Counter-clockwise, the fastest elapsed time was 17.09 seconds, or 147.454 mph.
The average of those two runs is 147.714 mph.