While just 15% of the 24,089 people who responded to JD Power's mailout questionnaire said their car was on company books, they were by far the most outspoken when it came to judging the vehicles' performance and handling, mechanical problems, dealership care, maintenance and servicing and warranty coverage. But it was the difference between expected levels and actual levels of UK dealer support that had the majority of fleet drivers ticking the 'poor' box, leading to a decline in overall customer satisfaction after a substantial improvement was shown by the survey last year.
Dave Sargeant, JD Power's director of European operations, said: 'Drivers demand and expect a lot more than they did five years ago and dealers are just not getting ahead - they're struggling to keep up with expectations.' Alan Pulham, franchised dealers director of the Retail Motor Industry Federation, said: 'The relationship between the dealer and company car driver has always been difficult because visits are so infrequent and that has got worse as service intervals have lengthened. Drivers also don't like losing their cars for a period of time. Friction is there before a vehicle has been bought by the fleet and I think there is room for improvement.'
The study ranked 115 different models, for which the entry qualification was a minimum of 50 responses, from 31 brands. Principal findings were that while satisfaction with dealers had slipped, owners reported fewer problems with their cars and overall customer satisfaction had improved. Subaru Legacy was the top model in this year's study with 99 points out of 100, displacing its stablemate Impreza into second spot at 98. Skoda Felicia scored 95 to secure third place ahead of the Toyota Starlet, listed as fourth despite equalling the Czech car's score. The previous year the Starlet scored 96 and was in equal second place.