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J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Peterbilt Ranks Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Conventional Medium-Duty Trucks; Chevrolet Ranks Highest in Customer Satisfaction With Medium-Duty Truck Dealer Service


Customer Satisfaction Levels Drop as Problems Increase for a Second Consecutive Year

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., Nov. 17 -- Peterbilt ranks highest in customer satisfaction among conventional cab medium-duty trucks, while Chevrolet ranks highest in medium-duty truck dealer service satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Medium-Duty Truck Customer Satisfaction Study(SM).

The study, now in its 14th year, analyzes customer satisfaction across a number of important areas, including vehicle performance, product quality, dealer service, dealer parts and manufacturer image.

Within the conventional truck segment, four factors are used to determine overall satisfaction: vehicle performance; quality; cost of ownership; and warranty. Peterbilt ranks highest in the segment, performing well across all four factors that determine overall satisfaction. In particular, Peterbilt receives the highest ratings from customers in vehicle performance and cost of ownership. Kenworth, GMC Truck, Freightliner, Sterling and Chevrolet, respectively, follow Peterbilt in the conventional segment rankings.

In the dealer service segment, overall satisfaction is determined by six factors (in order of importance): dealer facility; service quality; service delivery; service initiation; service advisor; and price. Chevrolet ranks highest for a second consecutive year, performing particularly well in service initiation, service advisor and cost.

Chevrolet's counterpart GMC follows in the dealer service rankings, receiving the highest ratings from customers in service delivery and service quality. International and Kenworth, respectively, follow GMC in the dealer service segment rankings. Additionally, in the overall service experience, customers are particularly dissatisfied with the price they pay for service -- specifically the cost of labor and cost of parts.

The study measures customer satisfaction with 2004 model-year trucks, the second model year impacted by the 2002 Consent Decree mandating lower emission levels. As automotive companies continue to adjust their compliant engines to meet regulation standards, the mix of new emission technology engines has increased from the 2003 model year when compared to 2004.

While the study does not discern which engines include new or old technology, or which engines meet the emission regulations and which do not, there has been a significant increase in the overall number of engine-related problems. Engine problems account for 29 percent of all problems reported in the study, compared to just 21 percent in the 2003 study, which was based on 2001 model-year trucks that were not affected by the new emission standards.

"Since the introduction of the new low-emission technology engines, owners have been more likely to experience an engine problem," said Brian Etchells, senior research manager in the commercial vehicle group at J.D. Power and Associates. "While we can't pinpoint whether the overall increase in engine problems is directly related to the new low-emission technologies, the fact that the number of problems has increased at the same time the technology was introduced would indicate a correlation. Exhaust gas recirculation valves -- which are a component of the new technology -- are among the top 10 most commonly mentioned engine problems."

The study also finds that loyalty among medium-duty truck owners has declined for a second consecutive year. In 2006, just 35 percent of customers indicate that they "definitely would" repurchase the same truck brand. This is a decline from 40 percent of customers who indicated the same in the 2005 study, and 45 percent of customers in 2004.

The 2006 Medium-Duty Truck Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 1,447 primary maintainers of two-year-old medium-duty trucks (Classes 5, 6 and 7).

  Conventional Cab Segment Index Results
  (Based on a 1,000-point scale)

  Peterbilt                      792
  Kenworth                       789
  GMC Truck                      783
  Freightliner                   780
  Sterling                       777
  Chevrolet                      768
  Conventional Segment Average   751
  International                  742
  Ford                           713

  Service Segment Index Results
  (Based on a 1,000-point scale)

  Chevrolet                      802
  GMC Truck                      798
  International                  774
  Kenworth                       769
  Service Segment Average        766
  Peterbilt                      755
  Sterling                       755
  Freightliner                   745
  Ford                           736