Japanese auto brands posted a significant decline in customer satisfaction in China among foreign automakers, after the Senkaku Islands dispute sparked nationwide protests last year.
Japanese brands trailed their South Korean, American and European competitors, beating only Chinese nameplates in an annual industry survey released Wednesday by J.D. Power & Associates. That contrasts with last year, when Japanese marques topped the study.
“The decline was mainly driven by political reasons, which undermined the reputation of Japanese brands,” said Tony Zhou, director of automotive research at J.D. Power China. “Consumers also complained about an aggressive push by Japanese dealerships, which are under pressure to generate profit amid rising competition, to make them spend more money.”
The deterioration in customer attitudes underscores the challenges Japanese automakers face in restoring good will lost in the aftermath of last year’s protests.
About 1,800 cars of Toyota Motor Corp., Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. were damaged during the protests in September, according to Guangzhou Automobile Group Co., which operates joint ventures with both Toyota and Honda.
The China Customer Service Index Study, in its 13th year, gauges satisfaction among car owners who bought their models within the past two years and visited an authorized dealer for maintenance or repair work in the last six months.