Saturn takes JD Power top spot

Friday, August 11th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – Consumers have driven the auto industry to record sales, but those who tried to buy the more popular cars and trucks were less satisfied by the sales process, according to a study by J.D. Power and Associates.

The Saturn arm of General Motors Corp. regained its top ranking among automakers for satisfying its customers, followed closely by Cadillac, Lexus and Infiniti.

Saturn fell out of the top spot last year after holding it for the previous four years.

J.D. Power said two-thirds of the customers it surveyed knew the invoice price of the vehicle they were buying – generally defined as the price the dealer paid for the vehicle, usually a few hundred dollars lower than the sticker price.

While such prices are widely available over the Internet and through other sources, Power's survey found that half the customers learned the invoice price from the dealership. Customers who knew the price were more satisfied than those who did not, and the gap was wider for the customers who found the price through dealers.

Another indicator of satisfaction was how long consumers spent negotiating a price. In general, the longer they spent haggling, the less happy they were.

"Taken together, these results raise the question of whether manufacturers and dealers should make invoice information available to shoppers," a spokesman said.

J.D. Power, based in Agoura Hills, Calif., surveys several thousand consumers for its indexes.