Japanese Cars Top Car Owner Satisfaction Survey

Japanese cars dominate driver satisfaction poll

According to the 2011 UK Ownership of Vehicle Satisfaction survey conducted by What Car? Magazine and JD Power and Associates, Japanese cars dominate the driver satisfaction survey for the consecutive eleven years. Leaving Ford and Vauxhall far behind, Japanese cars seized the seven of the top ten models.

The top rated models appeared to be Lexus IS which incidentally also captured the top position in the satisfaction table of manufacturers in the survey. Besides, a gain of 845 points in 1000 made Lexus IS top the charts for continuous eleventh year. Praises are pouring in for this particular model indicating a possible influence on the buyers.

On the second number in the list was placed the Honda Accord with a score of 833 points. Lexus Rx. Honda CR-V, Toyota Prius and Toyota RAV4 occupied the subsequent ranks of 3rd, 4th, 5th & 6th respectively by 16, 500 car holders. The Volvo S4O, Mercedes Benz E-class, BMW 5 Series and Honda Jazz were next in the survey.

Ford Ka faded away with a failure to make any impact and pushed itself to the last choice for most of the buyers along with Vauxhall Corsa and Kia Rio. Reportedly it was even the worst car of all the brands in the survey and has not at all impressed the car owners. The survey doers also criticized Vauxhall for not having even a single car that would be at par the average score of the industry.   Even manufacturers chose to dispel Honda and Lexus as their most cherished brands.

Jim Holder editor of What Car? Magazine exclaimed that it is indeed good that buyers are getting more drawn toward the car market. In a way that means that the car manufacturers are surely striking the right note with the customers. Every buyer wants a reliable car which is cost efficient with low repair and maintenance cost. With Lexus topping the survey for a stretch of eleven years, it is more than a cause of worry to the other brand to improve their products and build a rapport with their customers again.

According to sources, the satisfaction with ownership has improved owing to the increased premiums of insurance, competitive prices and pressure during a year.

Toyota launches Prius Alpha in Japan

Toyota Unveils Hybrid Wagon Prius Alpha

Toyota has recently launched Prius A hybrid, their all new seven seat car in Japan.  However it has been announced that the buyers have to wait for a couple of days before they get to own their Prius A as the supply chain has been disrupted by the recent earthquake that hit Japan in March this year.

During the launch, Toyota revealed it has taken orders for 25,000 models of the new Prius Alpha which is a wagon version of the ultra-efficient Prius.  Although Toyota had had projected it will come up with 3000 models per month, the initial reservations seems to outstrip the same.  A variety of several configurations including 5-seat and 7- seat versions of the car will be available in Japan.

The 5-seat version will have a battery of Nickel-Metal Hybrid whereas the 7-seat will have a equi-powered Lithium-Ion battery, the more compact one and shall be placed between the passenger and the driver in the central console.  Toyota Prius A is efficiently bigger in size and hence will witness a slight decrease in the fuel efficiency.

Toyota Hybrid System II and an Atkinson cycle engine of 1.8 litres are the added features of the new vehicle.  It produces approx. 89g/km of CO2 with its fuel efficiency of 73mpg.  Under the Regulations Concerning Rational Use of Energy, the Prius A exceeds the fuel efficiency of Japan in 2010 and meets the fuel efficiency of Japan in 2015.

Toyota made use of its Eco-Vehicle Assessment System to process methods & adhesives for internal parts and review materials.  Another feature is the hybrid indicator system along with the electric vehicle driving indicator which helps to show when the petrol engine shuts down and the electric motor powers the vehicle.

Prius V- the 5-seat model is about to be launched in Northern America much later than the scheduled date.  Though supply of Prius + has been significantly disrupted in the European market due to the earthquake. Customers willing to buy in Europe would still have to wait as the launch will be made in Europe in mid 2012.  Surprisingly, Toyota can build only 1000 of the 7-seaters model per month but it has received orders for over 7000 models.

Toyota Motors feel that US is going to have a different experience with the 7-seated Prius.  As of now selling million hybrids seems to be Toyota’s Primary focus. Currently it is fighting the delay of eleven months before it hits the market for deliveries.

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Japan car makers to work over weekends

The earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11 this year damaged the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, and sent three reactors into meltdowns.  Now the Hamaoka nuclear plant is being shut down too due to safety fears, adding to the shortage of energy resources in the country.

Auto production was already stagnating as a result of a 20-year slowdown when the 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit Japan.  In March, the production of 404,039 vehicles marked a drop of 57% from the same month the previous year, and also the sixth consecutive month of declining production levels.  As the twin disasters had hit production in addition to supplies to dealers, domestic sales of new trucks, cars, and buses also registered their biggest-ever decline in April.

To cope with the current energy crisis, the government had asked leading manufacturers to reduce the use of electricity by 15%.

With electricity consumption being usually higher in the country during the week than over the weekend, Japanese automakers have therefore decided to take an off on Thursdays and Fridays and manufacture cars over the weekend to save energy and avoid the possibility of blackouts resulting from the power crunch set off by damaged nuclear reactors.  Production at factories will be stopped on Thursdays and Fridays from July to September – the months in which electricity use is highest in Japan. The automakers and auto-parts makers have decided to shift our holidays from Saturdays and Sundays to Thursdays and Fridays, as the companies need to respond with a sense of crisis to the power shortage.

On Saturdays and Sundays, power supplies are adequate and the auto companies can conduct production without limitations.  Some companies may even direct their back-office staff too to opt for days off during the week, and will try to limit power consumption without disruption to production.

The expected power shortage is yet another challenge confronting Japanese car manufacturers that are already grappling with reduced output due to around 500 parts suppliers in northeastern Japan being affected by the earthquake and tsunami.  Besides, the recent disasters also resulted in a number of temporary factory shutdowns as a result of which shipments of key parts to China was also stopped.

Honda Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp. think it won’t be possible to get back to pre-disaster production levels till the end of this year, while Nissan is aiming for October.  Toyota has slashed manufacturing at its Chinese plants by around 50-70 % till June 3 because of a shortage of parts.

Japanese automakers are also facing other challenges like high taxes, the surging yen which is reducing the value of exports, pressures to check global warming and competitors in nations that have beat Japan in clinching free trade deals. One third of Japan’s electricity is provided by nuclear energy.  To deal with the power shortage, buildings in Tokyo have reduced lighting, several stores are closing earlier, and people are using the stairs instead of escalators and elevators.  Also, at home, citizens are being motivated to put up with higher room temperatures, prefer fans to air conditioners and unplug their personal computers and other appliances when not in use.