Now in its 12th year, the study includes responses from 2,677 primary maintainers of two-year-old Class 8 heavy-duty trucks. The study focuses on owner-operators and smaller fleets with an average fleet size of approximately 47 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 for four factors: performance, quality, warranty and cost of ownership. Kenworth performs particularly well in all three product segments in performance, quality and cost of ownership.
"Kenworth maintains its strong scores in over-the-road and pickup and delivery truck segments and improves considerably in 2007 with its vocational trucks to also capture the highest ranking in that segment," said Brian Etchells, senior research manager in the commercial vehicle group at J.D. Power and Associates. "In particular, the quality of engine and transmission performance and truck exteriors differentiate Kenworth from its competitors."
The study finds that while overall vehicle quality among heavy-duty trucks has improved notably since 2006, the total number of problems reported by customers remains higher than levels in 2005. Continuing a two-year trend, customers are more likely to report an engine-related problem and experience downtime as a result of the problem.
"In 2006, we saw a significant increase in engine problems that coincided with the introduction of new engine emission technology in 2004 model-year trucks," said Etchells. "With these engines becoming more prevalent in 2005 model year trucks, the number of customers who report engine-related problems and downtime continues to climb in 2007. Since these trucks are used as part of a business, engine problems - especially those that cause downtime - have a big impact on satisfaction."
Sterling ranks highest in customer satisfaction with dealer service, performing particularly well in the dealer facility factor. Kenworth and International closely follow Sterling in the dealer service rankings, respectively.
"Sterling improves notably in dealer service performance since 2006 - with a 60-index-point increase - to rank highest in the 2007 study," notes Etchells. "This is a very competitive market, with just a small margin separating Sterling, Kenworth and International in the rankings."
Approximately 83 percent of customers who took their trucks to dealers for service indicate that the work was done right the first time.
Over-The-Road Segment Index Ranking
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)
Over-the-Road Segment Average 728
Western Star 718
Pickup and Delivery Segment Index Ranking
Pickup and Delivery Segment Average 753
Mack Trucks 738
Vocational Segment Index Ranking
Western Star 768
Vocational Segment Average 763
Mack Trucks 729
Dealer Service Index Ranking
Western Star 758
Mack Trucks 754
Dealer Service Average 748