Vehicle Interior is a Major Driver of New-Vehicle Satisfaction in India

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Written by Mohit Arora, Executive Director, J.D. Power Asia Pacific

Satisfaction with the vehicle interior has the greatest impact on how delighted and gratified India’s new-vehicle owners are with their new vehicle during the first two months of ownership, according to our 2012 India Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.

The study finds that during the past 4 years, the impact of the vehicle interior on overall satisfaction has increased consistently, especially in the two fastest-growing vehicle segments in India—small car (which includes entry compact, compact and premium compact cars) and utility (including MUV/MPVs, SUVs and vans). The vehicle interior factor has increased by 52 index points in comparison to performance in 2009.

Although visibility and driving safety followed by fuel economy continue to be the leading drivers of satisfaction among new-vehicle owners in India, we see that vehicle interior, among the 10 performance categories evaluated, is a major differentiator for customers when it comes to satisfaction with their vehicle, especially since they interact and spend the most time inside their vehicle.

Heavy traffic in India means that new-vehicle owners spend significant time in their vehicle, averaging 2 to 4 hours daily. Thus there is a growing focus on vehicle interiors. Due to the amount of time that India’s new-vehicle owners spend in their vehicle, automakers are trying to make sure their models deliver an experience that appeals and also one that has design/aesthetics and quality.

Our study finds a number of vehicle interior attributes that are reported as being significant to new-vehicle owners. These include:

  • Comfort and ease of seating
  • The finish
  • Sensitivity to how the car looks inside
  • Attractiveness of interior lighting
  • How well interior colors/materials are coordinated
  • Attractiveness of instrumental panel and dashboard
  • Look and feel of steering wheel

The industry does need to improve overall interiors of their vehicles—especially in the small car segment, which makes up about 70% of auto sales in India. We do see that automakers are making significant efforts and investments to enhance the overall design and quality of the vehicle interior. This is evident among newly launched models as well as refreshed models launched in 2012. In fact, both newly introduced and refreshed models achieve an average index on the interior factor that is 16 points higher than comparable current models.