J D Power survey: Kenworth highest in customer satisfaction

Aug. 27, 2007
Kenworth ranks highest in heavy-duty truck customer satisfaction for over-the-road and pickup and delivery

Kenworth ranks highest in heavy-duty truck customer satisfaction for over-the-road and pickup and delivery trucks for a third consecutive year—and also ranks highest in the vocational truck segment, according to the J D Power and Associates 2007 Heavy-Duty Truck Customer Satisfaction Study.

Sterling Trucks ranks highest in dealer service, according to the study.

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.

Product satisfaction

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 and Associates. “In particular, the quality of engine and transmission performance and truck exteriors differentiate Kenworth from its competitors.”

The study found 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.”

Dealer service

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, according to the survey.

“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.

See previous years' studies by visiting Bulk Transporter archives at bulktransporter.com.