Thursday, 24 March 2016

FBI issues Public Warning on Car Hacking

FBI Issues Public Warning on Car HackingFBI Issues Public Warning on Car Hacking
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a public service announcement about the dangers of cyber security threats in our vehicles. 
The organization is trying to bring awareness to vehicle hacking to help consumers and manufacturers avoid it in the future. Thanks to the connectivity of new vehicles, the FBI says that the risk of a hacker stealing data from or remotely manipulating vehicle functionality is more of a likelihood.
Connections to a vehicle can be made through Bluetooth, WiFi or a USB port cautions the FBI.
The service announcement points to the case of the 2014 Jeep Cherokee that was hacked into last year by a team of researchers. Using the radio module's wireless communication connection, the hackers were able to shutdown the engine, disable the brakes and control the steering at low speeds between five and 10 mph. At any speed, they could control the door locks, turn signals, tachometer, radio and HVAC controls.
Attacks made on the vehicle using WiFi had to be done within 100 feet, but the hackers were also able to access the vehicle using a cellular connection which can be done from anywhere within the cellular carriers network.
The FBI breaks down four different ways that consumers can help to minimize cyber security risks: ensuring your software is up to date, using caution when modifying vehicle software, maintaining awareness when third party devices are hooked to your vehicle and awareness over who has physical access to your vehicle.
The FBI says that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is working towards improving cyber security of vehicles in the U.S., while automakers have established an information control center to provide a trustworthy way to exchange cyber security information.


FBI Issues Public Warning on Car Hacking...........

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Automotive Recalls Drive Decline in Service Satisfaction

Audi Ranks Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Dealer Service among Luxury Brands; MINI Ranks Highest among Mass Market Brands
TROY, Mich.: 16 March 2016 - Customer satisfaction with dealer service related to an automotive recall declines for the first time in six years, according to the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Customer Service Index (CSI) Study, released today. The drop in satisfaction this year, which comes on the heels of  a record number of recalls, stems from customers feeling that dealers do not give the same level of attention to recall work as they do to non-recall maintenance and repairs.
The study measures customer satisfaction with service at a franchised dealer facility for maintenance or repair work among owners and lessees of 1- to 5-year-old vehicles.
More than 51 million vehicles were recalled in 2015, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. As recall numbers soar, customer satisfaction with recall service drops to 781 on a 1,000-point scale in 2016, down from 789 in 2015. In comparison, satisfaction among customers with non-recall servicing averages 809 in 2016.
Compared with customers having non-recall work performed, those having recall work done are less likely to have their vehicle returned to them cleaner and with the same settings as when they brought it in and less likely to be contacted by the dealer after the service is complete.
"While it may be tempting for dealers to focus more on repair or maintenance work, recall customers represent both an opportunity and a risk to the brand and dealer," said Chris Sutton, vice president, U.S. automotive retail practice at J.D. Power. "There is a need for consistency in the service experience, regardless of the reason for the visit. A lack of consistency, particularly for recall work, can damage customers' perceptions of the brand and negatively impact their likelihood to recommend and repurchase the brand." 
Overall customer satisfaction, which is based solely on the first three years of ownership, with dealer service averages 854 in the luxury segment in 2016, up from 852 in 2015, and 797 in the mass market segment, up from 792.
Highest-Ranked Nameplates
Audi ranks highest in satisfaction with dealer service among luxury brands, with a score of 874. Following Audi in the luxury ranking are Lexus (869); Cadillac (863); Mercedes-Benz (857); and Jaguar and Lincoln in a tie (856 each).
MINI ranks highest in satisfaction with dealer service among mass market brands, with a score of 858. Rounding out the top five mass market brands in the ranking are Buick (849), GMC (830), Chevrolet (818) and Hyundai (814).
Key Study Findings
  • Wait Time - An Hour or Less is the Magic Number: The study finds that 70% of all service customers are willing to wait between one and two hours to have their vehicle serviced. Additionally, 17% of service customers will wait less than an hour or not at all for service, demonstrating the importance of providing loaner vehicles and offering shuttle service, as well as amenities in the waiting area. Customer satisfaction averages 835 when the wait time is less than one hour and 40 minutes, and dips to 756 when the wait is longer.
  • Service with a Smile: Service satisfaction improves by 44 points when a service advisor greets customers within two minutes of their arrival; yet, 27% of customers indicate they had to wait longer for a greeting. 
  • In Search of the Elusive Tire Customer: In the first five years of ownership, the components that customers most frequently replaced during the past 12 months are front wiper blades (25%); tires (22%); brake pads (6%); rear wiper blades (6%); and batteries (5%). Among these, tires are the only replacement component that customers are more likely to have replaced at a non-dealer facility than at a dealer facility. Dealers should take note of this finding, as their ability to retain customers for tires is important. Among customers who purchased tires at a dealership, 40% say they "definitely will" repurchase the same brand, compared with 31% of those who purchased from a non-dealer.
  • Dealers Need to Get on the Text Message Bandwagon: Dealer service communication overwhelmingly takes place either in person at the dealership or over the phone; only 2% of all customers currently receive service updates via text message or email. Yet, 37% of Gen X customers and 38% of Gen Y customers prefer to receive service updates via text message or email. Even 22% of Boomer customers prefer text or email communication. The willingness to communicate according to customer preference is a tremendous opportunity to increase satisfaction.
  • The Value of Getting it Right the First Time: The vast majority (94%) of customers who take their vehicle in for service indicate that the dealer fixed it right the first time. However, among the 6% of customers indicating the service work was not completed right on the first visit, satisfaction drops to 611, which is 207 points lower than among those whose work was completed right the first time. The most frequently cited reasons for the vehicle not being fixed right the first time are "work performed didn't correct the problem" (28%) and "dealership could not find the problem" (22%). 
The 2016 U.S. CSI Study is based on responses from more than 72,000 owners and lessees of 2011 to 2015 model-year vehicles. The study was fielded between October and December 2015.

Automotive Recalls Drive Decline in Service Satisfaction......................

Friday, 11 March 2016

Why this year is a good time to buy a used car

People are leasing more cars than ever before, and used car shoppers are benefiting.
New car sales rates have increased 68% - from 10.4 million in 2009 to 17.5 million in 2015 - since the recession, leading more people to lease instead of buy. The rate of people leasing cars rose 26% year-over-year from 2012 to 2013, according to the 2015 Used Vehicle Market Report. Since most leasing agreements are for three years, that has created a glut of vehicles in today's used car market. As a result, prices for used cars have dropped, with prices for 3-year-old vehicles discounted by about 4% year-over-year in 2015, according to the report.
This trend is still in its early stages - the number of lease deals was at its highest level ever in 2015, according to car auction company Manheim's 2016 Used Car Market Report, meaning off-lease levels will remain high at least through 2018 - so customers will be able to enjoy lower used vehicle prices as long as monthly lease payments remain attractive, says Larry Dixon, senior analyst for the National Automobile Dealers Association's Used Car Guide. "It's the first time since the recession that [used vehicle] prices have come down," Dixon says, citing high vehicle supply as the primary driver of low prices.
The popularity of leasing picked up in 2010 after dropping to a low of just over one million deals in 2009, according to Manheim. The number of deals have increased steadily each year, reaching just under four million in 2015. When a new car is leased, it is owned by a finance company - typically one under the ownership of the auto maker - which determines the monthly payments based on the expected value of the car after the lease is up. The pickup in leasing has been attributed to a combination of low interest rates and new cars maintaining their value through the leasing term, says Tim Fleming, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book. These factors have made it easier for dealers to offer lower monthly leasing payments, making it more attractive to lease than buy. The average monthly lease payment offered in February was $425, compared with the average car payment for that month, which was $542, according to data from J.D. Power.
High leasing levels compared with ownership rates also mean a greater number of younger vehicles are being added to the market, offering a wider selection for car buyers. The average mileage of cars at auction in 2015 was at its lowest point since 2002, according to Manheim, and about half of used cars sold in 2015 were three years old or younger, estimates Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis at
The quality of these younger cars has improved across most brands in recent years, so shoppers who opt for discount nameplates are still getting more bang for their buck at used car lots. "In terms of technology, fuel efficiency, engine power and features inside the vehicle, everyone is putting out some really great cars," Fleming says. Cars coming off leases also tend to be in better shape than those that were previously owned by the driver since most lease agreements include "wear and tear" penalties and maximum mileage amounts.
Used sedans will see greater discounts because of consumer preferences trending toward crossovers and SUVs, Caldwell says. While the demand for crossovers and SUVs in turn will cause a larger secondary market for the segment, demand is also expected to remain high, having little effect on used prices. "There have been significant jumps in the volume of utility vehicles," Dixon says, adding that the market for compact SUVs just off their lease increased nearly 60% year over year in 2016.
For shoppers looking for the best possible deal in the used car market, it may be better to hold off as values continue to drop. "We do expect [used car] prices to fall this year, so it's better to wait if possible," Fleming says A similar trend of declining used car prices occurred in the late 1990s and early 2000s. At that time, as the expected value of used cars decreased, automotive finance companies lost billions in leasing deals. The result was a bounce back in used car prices and a decline in leasing levels, bottoming out in the recession. However, recent measures - like Certified Pre-Owned programs, which increase the expected value of an used vehicle by extending warranty offers similar to those available for new cars - have been put in place to decrease the risk of a free fall in the leasing market, Dixon says.
The decline in used car prices is more of a sign of a market returning to healthy levels than a sign of instability, Fleming adds. "The market is relatively stable right now, this is nothing too surprising," he says. "There's nothing that says to me prices are going to precipitously drop, but we also don't know if [the trend] has found its peak yet."


Why This Year is a Good Time to Buy a Used

Friday, 4 March 2016

J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Ratings

While few would argue that today's cars and trucks are designed and built better and last longer than ever, why is it that the industry's overall reliability ratings, particularly those just released by the venerable consumer research firm J.D. Power are on the decline. The consumer research company says they fell by an average industry-wide 3% in its just released 2016 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study of three-year-old vehicles.
And yet the same study shows that the number of major mechanical powertrain problems reported by their owners declined by around 8% in the past year.
Apparently the notion of what qualifies as an unreliable car no longer means one that leaves its owner stranded at the side of the road or otherwise requires frequent repairs. Today it's stretched to encompass what some of us might consider minor inconveniences, particularly balky voice control systems and difficulty with Bluetooth mobile phone pairing and connectivity. Issues with electronics now account for 20% of all consumer-reported car problems in J.D. Power's survey.
"The increase in technology-related problems has two sources," says Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive at J.D. Power. "Usability problems that customers reported during their first 90 days of ownership are still bothering them three years later in ever-higher numbers. At the same time, the penetration of these features has increased year over year."
In total, seven out of the top 10 glitches reported are design-related and account for 39% of issues reported this year, which represents a 2% increase from 2015. In addition to infotainment system-related glitches (noted under the survey's "Feature and Accessory Dependability" scores), these include problems with things like the vehicle's exterior, seats, seatbelts, wind noise, interior fit/finish, paint imperfection and squeaks/rattles (categorized under a car's "Body and Interior Dependability" ratings).


J.D. Power Vehicle Dependability Ratings..............................