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2013 India Vehicle Dependability Study Results

7/1/2013
In India, the incidence of problems with motor vehicles experienced by their owners increases 24% during the past year, according to the newly released J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2013 India Vehicle Dependability StudySM (VDS). This is the second consecutive year in which an overall dependability declines, according to the study, now in its sixth year.

The study measures problems experienced by original owners of 30- to 42-month-old vehicles covering 169 different problem symptoms across nine vehicle categories, including:

  • vehicle exterior
  • driving experience
  • features, controls, and displays
  • audio and entertainment
  • seats
  • heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC)
  • vehicle interior
  • engine
  • transmission

In 2013, overall vehicle dependability in India averages 280 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), compared with 225 PP100 in 2012. The 24% increase in problems in 2013 spreads across all problem categories and models, and it cannot be attributed to a significant increase in one or more areas, or to all-new models included in the study. However, the study finds that an increased number of vehicles in India do not have extended warranties or service contracts, and the frequency with which owners take their vehicle for scheduled or routine maintenance has decreased. Longer periods between maintenance tend to lead to an increase in problems with the vehicle.

Unexpected Repairs Negatively Affect Owner Perceptions of Vehicle Quality

Among vehicle owners surveyed, 43% indicate having experienced unexpected repairs on their vehicle: an increase of 4% from 2012. In addition, the percentage of owners who have taken their vehicle in for repairs at an authorized service center three or more times, has doubled from 2012. On average, these customers report 2.4 times more problems than those who have not taken their vehicle in for repairs (418 PP100 vs. 174 PP100, respectively).

"Undergoing unexpected repairs has a very strong bearing on the perception of vehicle reliability, durability, and overall vehicle quality," said Mohit Arora, executive director of J.D. Power Asia Pacific. "Given that the average ownership cycle in India is approximately five years, the owners surveyed in this study are close to replacing their current vehicles. Higher incidences of repairs are likely to dissuade them from purchasing the same make in the future."

Among owners who indicate that they did not experience problems with their vehicle, 70% say they "definitely would" recommend their current vehicle to others. When owners experience one or more problems with their vehicle, the likelihood of a recommendation drops to 46%.

The study also finds that the routine servicing and maintenance at authorized service centers has been declining during the past two years. Only 69% of owners have taken their vehicle to an authorized dealer/service center four or more times, down from 91% in 2011.

"Conforming to a prescribed servicing schedule helps to keep vehicle problems and incidences of unexpected repairs in check," said Arora. "One way of ensuring that owners continue to regularly service their vehicle at authorized service centers, particularly in the post-warranty period, is by offering an extended warranty. This year the proportion of owners who are covered under an extended warranty program has declined, which may have contributed to the decline in the frequency of service visits."

The 2013 India VDS is based on evaluations from 7,032 original owners who purchased a new vehicle between July 2009 and September 2010. The study includes 61 models in 11 vehicle segments: entry compact; compact; premium compact; entry midsize; midsize; premium midsize; entry luxury; luxury; multi-utility/multi-purpose vehicle (MUV/ MPV); sport-utility vehicle (SUV); and van.

Maruti Suzuki and Toyota each have two models that rank highest in their respective segments. Maruti Suzuki's A-star ranks highest in the compact segment and the Swift Dzire ranks highest in the entry midsize segment. Toyota receives model awards for the Innova and Fortuner in the MUV/ MPV segment and SUV segment, respectively. Honda City ranks highest in the midsize segment, and new entrants Chevrolet Cruze and Ford Figo receive awards in the premium midsize and premium compact segments, respectively.

Based on the 2013 India VDS, J.D. Power offers the following consumer tips:
  • When buying a new car, consider the manufacturers' and dealer's warranties and service agreements. Very often, the better the warranty, the more dependable the car.
  • Work with your dealer to determine a maintenance schedule. Bring your vehicle in regularly for routine maintenance. Most automakers provide a service schedule that lists what should be done and when.
  • Don't perform complex repairs and maintenance yourself unless you're a highly skilled mechanic.
  • Don't use off-brand or lower-octane fuel to save money. In the long run, poor fuel will give you poor gas mileage, and can affect the vehicle's overall performance.

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