Dealer satisfaction second highest in history

The National Automobile Dealers' Association’s (NADA) Dealer Satisfaction Index Survey (DSI) done by its research partner, Lightstone, revealed an increase of 0.2% in 2023 to 76.4% , the second highest score recorded since 2003 despite all the challenges currently facing the automotive industry.

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“In a remarkable display of participation, a total of 34 brands, comprising 25 Passenger/LCV and 9 Commercial vehicles, actively took part in the 2023 survey. This notable level of involvement, positions the survey as one of the most comprehensive studies ever conducted within the South African industry,” says Jaco van Staden, head of sales at Lightstone.

The NADA DSI survey, now in its 27th year, monitors the relationship between dealers and manufacturers. It serves as a platform for dealers to provide feedback to manufacturers and importers. The survey's outcomes have been utilised by dealer councils and manufacturers to address concerns and enhance service delivery, benefiting consumers.

Ghana Msibi (WesBank CEO), Jeffrey Molefe (RMI Executive, received the certificate on behalf of Subaru) and Ryan Seele (NADA National Executive). Photos: Will du Plessis ZooM

The awards ceremony, hosted by Wesbank, serves as an essential indicator of not only dealer satisfaction but also as a yardstick for investment, says Ryan Seele, Executive Member of the NADA NEC in his opening address. “While a score alone cannot ensure sustainability, it reflects the willingness to collaborate and work together. Those partners who actively engage with their councils to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes will witness increased dealer investment and, consequently, the success of both the brand and its network.”

Jaco says the survey received an outstanding response rate, with 86% participation from the Passenger/LCV segment and 78% participation from the Commercial segment.

This year, a total of 21 Passenger / LCV brands achieved an overall percentage above 65% to receive an award. The most improved brand in 2023 is Subaru (+7.5%). Other brands that showcased a significant positive increase in overall satisfaction are Mahindra (+5.8%), GWM and Haval (+4.8%) and BMW (+4.1%).

For those brands that offer branded used car programmes, dealers are most satisfied with the Used Car programme available. This is followed by dealers being most satisfied with the Goodwill, Policy Claims & Warranty category, followed by Media Support, though satisfaction with Media Support has declined since last year. Vehicle Distribution was previously the area dealers were least satisfied with, but this category has improved most during 2023 and is no longer the biggest pain point.

Repeating their 2022 performance, Toyota and Hyundai both achieved Platinum Status in 2023, while 9 manufacturers achieved Gold status. The gold award winners are Lexus, Suzuki, Mini, Kia, Chery, Mitsubishi, BMW, Renault and Volvo. Three brands - Ford, Mahindra and Mazda - achieved silver status in 2023 and seven brands - Audi, Isuzu, Subaru, Mercedes-Benz, Honda, Nissan and Volkswagen - achieved Bronze status.

The Commercial survey was first introduced in 2008. Since 2008, the highest overall average score of 78% was recorded in 2018. The 2023 overall Commercial score has improved from 77.2% in 2022 to 77.9%, the second highest score achieved since the inception of this study.

This year, eight participating brands achieved an overall percentage above 65%. The most improved brand in the 2023 NADA DSI is UD Trucks, moving from an overall percentage of 72.7% and a silver award in 2022 to a gold award in 2023, scoring 75.2%.

The bar for achieving a Platinum Award is set quite high at above 85%, with Hino hitting this mark in every study since 2019 and again being the only Commercial brand winning a Platinum award in 2023. MAN maintained its second position overall and took home a Gold Award together with UD Trucks. Four brands - Mercedes-Benz Trucks, FUSO, Isuzu Trucks and FAW - achieved silver status, with only one bronze award made in 2023 to Mercedes-Benz Bus.

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