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Wheels of desire

autos Updated: Jun 02, 2010 23:37 IST
Arnab Mitra
Arnab Mitra
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Younger car owners are much more satisfied with their wheels than older ones. And car owners in Lucknow, for some reason, are more satisfied with their cars compared to their counterparts in the rest of the country.

And Honda Siel Cars India makes three of the five cars with the highest ratings, according to the HT-MaRS Car Owners’ Satisfaction Survey (see How we did it on Page 26 for methodology), which threw up few predictable results, but several surprises as well.

Apart from Honda, Fiat India was the other big winner in this survey. The company, which reported an 82 per cent rise in sales last month (May 2010 vs May 2009), has two clear winners in Fiat Linea and Fiat Grande Punto.

The former was ranked the third best car overall (jointly with Honda Civic) and top of its class in the Rs 6-8 lakh price band. The Grande Punto came in at No. 10 overall and top of its class in the Rs 4-6 lakh price band.

It will come as no surprise that overall satisfaction levels rise with the price of the car, ie, owners of higher end cars tend to exhibit higher satisfaction levels than owners of lower end cars.

“To be able to understand the ratings, it must be understood that satisfaction ratings of cars by owners is a personal experience — much more so for cars than for any other durables,” says Raghu Roy, managing director, MaRS, HT’s knowledge partner for this project.

“While the performance of the car remains the principal determinant of the satisfaction level, two other factors contribute significantly. One is the expectancy disconfirmation — whether the performance is below or above expectations. The second is the pride of ownership, which makes some owners overlook problems or exaggerate performance,” he adds.

This survey has several firsts to its credit. It is the first in India to list the most women-friendly cars, the best family cars, the best looking cars, the most environment-friendly cars and the cars with the best resale value across brands.

This, we believe, will help readers cut through the clutter of information about various models and make informed choices about their next car purchase. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that car owners rated cars bought in 2009 and 2010 the highest. After all, it’s reasonable to expect them to rate newer cars above older ones. But surprise… owners of 2007 model cars rate their cars higher than owners of 2008 models!

Maruti Suzuki scores on customer service. On this count, its cars — Alto, Swift Dzire and SX4 — top their class in the less than Rs 4 lakh, Rs 4-6 lakh and the Rs 6-8 lakh categories, respectively. It does not have any entries in the more than Rs 8 lakh and SUV/MUV category. Such domination of a particular parameter is obviously a tribute to its reach as well the competition among Maruti service centres to attract and retain customers.

Three Marutis — Alto, Swift Dzire and SX4 — also come out on top under the “maintenance” parameter.

These two findings may hold the secret to Maruti Suzuki’s dominance over the Indian market even after the entry of higher rated international rivals. Competitors, take note.

“Overall, three findings stand out. It is clear that the more you spend the more satisfaction you derive. Then, the younger you are, the happier you are with your car. And finally, there is disconnect between perception ratings and satisfaction levels. Perception ratings may determine brand shares, but satisfaction levels are determined by personal experience,” says Roy.