Kenworth ranks highest among heavy-duty trucks in J.D. Power study

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Kenworth ranks highest in customer satisfaction for three segments: over-the-road, pickup and delivery, as well as for dealer service, while Volvo improves to rank highest for the vocational segment, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2005 Heavy-Duty Truck Customer Satisfaction Study.

Now in its 10th year, the study includes responses from 2,429 primary maintainers of two-year-old Class 8 heavy-duty trucks. The study focuses on smaller fleets and owner-operators with an average fleet size of 53 trucks at a single location. The study also measures satisfaction with services received from an authorized truck dealer’s service department.

Customer satisfaction for the three product segments is measured on six factors: quality, exterior, engine, ride/handling/braking, transmission and interior. In the over-the-road segment, satisfaction with the vehicle’s sleeper also is measured.

Overall customer satisfaction with heavy-duty trucks has declined from 2004, with lower scores for the six factors that drive satisfaction, particularly with quality and engine. Owners report considerably more problems with their trucks than in 2004, averaging nearly twice as many days of downtime. Owner satisfaction with fuel economy also declines versus 2004, with the average reported fuel economy dropping below six miles per gallon for the first time in the study’s history.

“As operating costs, including diesel fuel prices, continue to rise, truck owners grow more sensitive to areas such as fuel economy and truck downtime,” says Brian Etchells, senior research manager in the commercial vehicle group at J.D. Power and Associates. “An additional day of truck downtime or a slight drop in fuel economy can have a big effect on a fleet’s bottom line. Manufacturers should be particularly aware of customer expectations to promote high satisfaction levels.”

Kenworth ranks highest in the over-the-road segment, with particularly high satisfaction scores in the quality, engine and sleeper factors. Kenworth also ranks highest in the pickup and delivery segment, receiving the top scores for all six factors that drive customer satisfaction.

Volvo Trucks of North America ranks highest in customer satisfaction in the vocational segment. Volvo leads the vocational segment in the factors for quality, ride/handling/braking and interior.

Kenworth ranks highest in dealer service, receiving particularly high ratings from customers in six of the seven factors that drive customer satisfaction: dealer attitude, dealer facility, service delivery, service initiation, service adviser and price. Peterbilt, which follows Kenworth closely in the service ranking, receives strong scores for service quality and service adviser.

“Dealers who go the extra mile to provide exceptional service can not only lessen the negative impact a breakdown has on satisfaction, but can also increase loyalty by strengthening the relationship with the customer,” Etchells said.