By on August 15, 2011


According to (some) conventional wisdom, Chinese cars are made from toxic drywall and are covered with lead paint. A more benign characterization of a Chinese car is “POS” – which is not meant as “point of sale.”

J.D. Power, the global go-to for all matters of customer satisfaction, begs to differ. Chinese have never been happier with their new car, says J.D. Power in a press release titled “New-Vehicle Sales Satisfaction in China Reaches an Historic High in 2011.”

Who are the cars that make Chinese so giddy? If you like American brands, don’t hit the jump. Wait – we found another study that has some red, white and blue. Jump with confidence …

New-vehicle sales satisfaction in China has reached an all-time high, according to the J.D. Power Asia Pacific 2011 China Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study, released today. This study does not measure how happy the customer is with the car. Not officially. Officially, “the study measures customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle purchase experience in the China market.” Officially, it rates the dealer, not the car. But as this “study is based on new-vehicle owner evaluations during the first two to six months of ownership,” you can rest assured that unhappiness with the car will influence the grades given to the dealer.

On a 1,000 point scale, Chinese give all their dealers 847 points – that’s pretty darned good. Overall satisfaction with where Chinese buy their cars has climbed 24 points compared with 2010. The top 5 look like former axis powers have won the battle for the hearts and minds of Chinese customers (with Italy, true to form, in hiding): The SSI list is lead by Audi (887 points), followed by Dongfeng Nissan (880), FAW-Volkswagen (869). Dongfeng Honda and GAC Toyota are in a dead heat with 866 points each.

If you want to know how the other brands fared, then you have to go here. If you want to know the exact ranking, you will be disappointed. J.D. Power assigns blobs in the publicly available data. Five blobs for “among the best,” four blobs for “better than most,” three for “about average,” and two blobs for “the rest.” Chevrolet is in the “better than most” camp.  Buick and Ford are rated as “about average,” blob-wise in the same league as Chery and Gleagle, but also as average as Lexus and Mercedes. If you want more than blobs and desire finer grained data: J.D. Power will happily sell you the data. They are in the data selling business.

2011 China J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Rankings

1 Audi Guangqi Honda
2 Dongfeng Nissan Dongfeng Honda
3 FAW-Volkswagen Buick
4 Dongfeng Honda Dongfeng Citroen
5 GAC Toyota SGM-Chevrolet

Did you just say “dealer-schmealer – I want car ratings!” Good point. Just like back home, J.D. Power will sell you a whole alphabet soup of studies in China – but with Chinese characteristics. There is IQS, APPEAL, VDSI, in addition to the SSI and the Chinese Customer Service Index CSI. The 2011 CSI came out a few weeks ago. For the rest, you have to wait a while and budget more money.

China’s satisfaction with dealer service likewise has soared to a record high, up 14 points to 833 overall. And here, we finally see some Americans. The top five are Guangqi Honda (896), Dongfeng Honda (891), Buick (887), Dongfeng Citroen (883) and SGM-Chevrolet (879).  You want blobs? Here they are. You want more? Pay up.

I bet now you really want to know how the cars are rated in China. For that, you will have to wait for the IQS. Or the rest of the alphabet soup. Here, everybody will be a winner. They are broken down into 10 sub-classes each, assuring that nobody uses face.

Pure Chinese brands studiously ignore the J.D. Power ratings anyway. They think they are too expensive and a waste of money. Joint ventures buy the studies, because HQ told them so.

If you have read up to here, please join us in a little TTAC nitpicking: We give the headline “New-Vehicle Sales Satisfaction in China Reaches an Historic High in 2011” a middling three blobs on the TTACGI (The Truth About Cars Correct Grammar Index.) “An historic high” is reached only in France, where they have “istoric ighs.”


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