Volkswagen VOW3.XE -0.44% and General Motors GM +2.01% make many of China’s bestselling cars. But a survey of new-car purchasers suggests Chinese drivers aren’t always satisfied with what they drive off the lot.
The report, issued Friday by consulting firm J.D. Power, shows the German auto maker posted improvements for its locally made cars compared with a similar accounting a year ago. Still, it continued to rank relatively low for its locally produced cars compared with other foreign and domestic brands that drivers find acceptable. Chinese car buyers had few gripes with imported Volkswagens.
Meanwhile, models of GM’s Buick and Chevrolet didn’t appear on the list at all. That means both scored below average in the survey, J.D. Power said. A J.D. Power representative told China Real Time that Buick is showing signs of improvement compared to last year but Chevrolet remains flat.
In the market for high-end cars, Volkswagen’s Audi NSU.XE +0.62% brand also didn’t appear in the survey, meaning it performed below average but showed a marginal improvement over last year according to J.D. Power.
GM’s Cadillac also ranked below average, but is showing signs of improvement compared to last year, the J.D. Power representative said.
A spokeswoman for Volkswagen in China said the company does not comment on survey results. GM could not be reached immediately for comment.
“Audi stands for quality, which is proven by our customers’ direct feedback to us and their continued loyalty,” said Martin Kuehl, Audi’s spokesman in China.
The survey underscores the challenges of satisfying Chinese car buyers. Many of them are first-time buyers with high hopes for their new wheels, and who auto makers want to service when they go looking for their second car.
Mei Songlin of J.D Power says the performance may be explained in part by the perceptions of Chinese consumers, who widely believe foreign cars to be of higher quality. “Their expectations are sometimes too high and when they encounter any issue they can’t accept it,” he says.
For VW, the report comes amid increasing scrutiny in China. Last week the German auto maker’s China chief, took to the media to convince Chinese consumers its Sagitar brand was safe. That followed a recall of more than half a million VW cars in China, including Sagitars, for problems related to rear axles.
In an interview in September, GM’s China head, Matt Tsien, said quality was is one of the top priorities for the company. “We’re proud of the quality of the products that we offer. We have, year on year, continued to improve our quality and will continue to do so going forward,” he said.
The survey was based on evaluations by more than 21,000 owners of cars bought between October last year and June and was conducted in more than 50 cities throughout China between April and August.