Hino Trucks, a Toyota Group Company, ranks highest in customer satisfaction among conventional cab medium-duty trucks in its second model year of producing the vehicles, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Medium-Duty Truck Customer Satisfaction Study.

The study also found that customer intent to purchase or lease new medium-duty trucks within the next 12 months has reached its lowest level since 2002.

The study, now in its 16th year, measures customer perceptions of 2006 model-year Class 5, 6 and 7 commercial vehicles.

Within the conventional cab truck segment, four factors are measured to determine overall satisfaction. In order of importance, they are: vehicle performance; quality; warranty; and cost of ownership. The study also measures satisfaction with services received from authorized truck dealer service departments by examining six factors: dealer facility; service quality; service delivery; service initiation; service advisor; and price.

Hino improved notably from 2007 in each of the four factors and performed particularly well in the quality and warranty factors. Hino completely switched its model lineup from cab-over to conventional-cab trucks starting with the 2005 model year.

Peterbilt closely follows Hino in the rankings, while Chevrolet, Freightliner, GMC Trucks, Sterling and Kenworth, respectively, also rank above the segment average.

"Hino was a perennial quality and performance leader in the cab-over segment until it exited that market with the 2005 model year," said Brian Etchells, senior research manager in the commercial vehicle group at J.D. Power and Associates. "At that time, there was great anticipation in the industry to see how Hino would perform in the much more competitive conventional market. While it's not unusual to see manufacturers struggle with quality and design issues when launching new models, Hino's 2005 model year lineup performed well in our 2007 study, ranking fourth out of nine makes. Hino greatly improved the performance of its 2006 models to rank highest in this year's study."

Chevrolet ranks highest in customer satisfaction with dealer service for a third consecutive year, performing particularly well in all six factors. Hino follows Chevrolet in the rankings, performing well in the service quality, service delivery, service initiation and service advisor factors. Sterling and GMC Trucks, respectively, also rank above the industry average.

Chevrolet and Hino both improved notably from 2007, with markedly higher scores for Hino in each of the six factorss. "A strong dealer service network can help lessen the impact that component failures have on satisfaction," said Etchells. "Ensuring trucks are repaired quickly and fixed right the first time can go a long way toward minimizing downtime and inconvenience for the customer."

Compared with the 2007 study, Class 6 and 7 owners in 2008 are much more likely to say they "probably will not" or "definitely will not" purchase or lease new trucks in the next 12 months. In particular, the percentage of owners who say they do not intend to purchase or lease has increased notably among Class 6 owners.

"During these challenging economic times, many owners are planning to hold on to their trucks longer," said Etchells. "These findings-coupled with similar levels of purchase intent among Class 8 customers found in the 2008 Heavy-Duty Truck Customer Satisfaction Study-point to more lean times for the U.S. commercial vehicle industry in the short term."

The study also finds that the intent to purchase or lease a new truck among Class 5 owners increased slightly in 2008, with 21 percent of owners indicating they "definitely will" purchase or lease a new truck within the next 12 months. Conversely, only 18 percent of owners in the 2007 study said the same.

The 2008 Medium-Duty Truck Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 1,525 primary maintainers of two-year-old conventional cab medium-duty trucks. The study was fielded in July and August 2008.