Written by Mohit Arora, Executive Director
New-vehicle owners of models powered by diesel engines are, on the whole, more satisfied with their new vehicles than are owners of conventional gasoline-powered new vehicles, according to results in both the 2012 India Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study and the 2012 India Initial Quality Study (IQS).
In our recently released 2012 India APEAL Study, the gap in satisfaction scores between owners of diesel- and gasoline-powered vehicles has changed significantly during the past 4 years. In 2009, the average index score among owners of gasoline-powered vehicles was 3 points higher than among owners of diesel-powered vehicles. However, in 2012, the APEAL average index score is 22 points higher among owners of diesel vehicles than among owners of gasoline vehicles. In addition, overall satisfaction among owners of diesel-powered vehicles averages an APEAL index score of 839 (on a 1,000-point scale)—which is 24 index points higher than among owners of gasoline-powered vehicles (815).
Why Are Diesel Vehicle Owners More Satisfied?
There are a number of factors that influence owner satisfaction with diesel vehicles. One key reason for higher satisfaction is the widening price difference between the two fuel options in India.
First, the average vehicle owner in India is highly sensitive to the cost of operating his or her vehicle. We see that, in general, diesel vehicle owners tend to spend less on the daily running of their vehicle, since diesel fuel costs less than gasoline, and fuel efficiency is higher for diesel-powered vehicles than for those that operate on gasoline.
Furthermore, the quality of diesel engines on the market has improved in India and there are more diesel models available, even in the small, or compact, car segment, which was dominated by gasoline-fueled models a few years ago.
Although we see that new-vehicle owners are more critical of various aspects of their vehicle, such as fuel economy, it is premature to assume that gasoline-powered vehicles will likely be phased out. It should be remembered that there’s a premium for buying a diesel vehicle vs. a gasoline-powered vehicle. In addition, the regular repair and maintenance costs of gasoline-powered cars are far more reasonable, compared to diesel-powered cars.
Also, while there have been improvements in the quality of engines available, gasoline engines are still considered to be more refined and are optimal for a smoother driving experience that is without noise. This is especially true among small car owners who are interested in mainly traveling shorter distances.
Note: Prashant Singh, research supervisor at J.D. Power Asia Pacific, Singapore, contributed to this post.