Dealer Insights - Nov/Dec 2012 - Dealer Digest


The results of a recently released Federal Trade Commission (FTC) study show that, when companies make “up to” claims about savings to consumers, many consumers are likely to expect the full “up to” results.

The study was held in tandem with an investigation of five companies that were found to have made unsupported claims about the cost benefits of their replacement windows. A test group of consumers was asked what they believed when they read a window manufacturer’s claim that its replacement windows would save the homeowners “up to 47%” in energy costs.

The FTC recently said it thinks the study’s results “will help guide advertisers to avoid the use of misleading ‘up to’ claims” and reinforce the agency’s view that advertisers using these claims “should be able to substantiate that consumers are likely to achieve the maximum results promised under normal circumstances.”

Auto manufacturers have been the subjects of complaints and even lawsuits in recent years by consumers who disputed their “up to” claims about fuel savings for certain models.

U.S. light-vehicle sales are expected to climb from about 14.5 million units this year to approximately 15 million units in 2013, according to participants in the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank’s Annual Automotive Outlook Symposium. 

At the 2011 symposium, participants forecast that 13.2 million light vehicles would be sold that year. A total of 12.7 million units were actually sold.

Audio, entertainment and navigation systems were the most common complaint areas reported by new vehicle owners in the first 90 days, according to the 2012 U.S. Initial Quality Study by J.D. Power and Associates.

The study found that hands-free devices not recognizing commands has become the most frequently reported problem by new car owners. Moreover, the number of owner-reported problems with factory-installed hands-free communication devices has increased 137% in the past four years.

The uptick in these problems is linked to the rapid increase in owners buying these new technologies as well as a change in the marketplace. “Until recently, this type of sophisticated technology was found primarily on high-end models,” a J.D. Power executive noted. “However, over the past few years it has rapidly found its way into the automotive mainstream. For example, in 2012, more than 80% of owners indicated that their new vehicle has some form of hands-free technology.”

Do you have enough service technicians trained to handle new-technology problems? With statistics like these, it’s probably wise to beef up your staff’s expertise. 

Dealer Insights - November/December 2012 Issue

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