27 August 2013 18:49 [Source: ICIS news]
By Mark Yost
HOUSTON (ICIS)--A new survey of customer satisfaction among car buyers could be a bad sign for ?xml:namespace>
According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, a survey conducted by the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, customer satisfaction among new-car buyers has dropped 1.2% to an overall score of 83 out of 100. That is down from an overall score of 84 a year ago.
Customers are most unsatisfied with US-made cars, the survey said.
European manufacturers ranked first with a satisfaction score of 84.7, according to the survey, followed by Asian automakers with a score of 84.1, while US brands only scored an 82.
Among individual brands, Mercedes, Lexus and
That is because there is a growing concern among automakers and petrochemical makers that the pent-up demand that has been driving US car sales to levels that have not been seen since 2007 is eventually going to wane. When it does, and car sales are harder to come by, these customer satisfaction scores will matter.
"We know that this demand isn't going to stay this high forever," one petrochemical source said. "In fact, we're not even sure it's going to last through the end of the year."
Indeed, automakers and petrochemical firms are worried that when this pent-up demand from the 2009 recession runs out, the market will not gradually slow down. Instead, it will plummet.
"Quite frankly, we're surprised that auto sales have done this well, this long," said one source who provides petrochemicals that go into plastic components for US automakers. "We've done well to manage it [demand] on the way up, but I'm not sure it'll be so easy to manage it on the way down. Because we think the drop will be sharp."
When that happens, the car buyers who are left will flock to brands with the best quality, sources speculated. And according to the recent survey, that is not US brands that buy their petrochemical-based plastics from US producers.
"The study certainly tells me that if US automakers are going to build future sales, they're going to have to do it by doing a better job of satisfying customers," one source said. "They're going to have to win over those customers who are buying foreign brands. And they're going to have to do it by making better automobiles."
The one positive to all this is that many foreign nameplates -
But the lion's share of the auto manufacturing in the
Petrochemicals that go into automotive include ACN, ABS, butadiene (BD), nylon, polycarbonate (PC) and styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR).
Some of the companies that provide petrochemicals to the auto industry include Ashland, Ascend Performance Materials, Bayer, BASF, ExxonMobil, Honeywell, INEOS, LyondellBasell, Pemex, Shell and TPC Group.
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