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Despite the negative impact that the National Credit Act has had on new vehicle sales this year, there is a general improvement in the day-to-day running of the industry itself.
This is according to research by Synovate's Competitive Customer Satisfaction (CCSI), the largest survey of its kind in the South African market.
The survey includes product quality measurement, commonly known as PP100 or problems per 100 vehicles, which measures the number of problems new car owners experience with their vehicles in the first few months of ownership. This means that in this survey, a lower score means a better result.
More than 55000 vehicle owners are interviewed each year.
According to Synovate, last year the average problem count on passenger vehicles was 153 per 100 vehicles. This year the problem count has decreased to 117 per 100 vehicles, an improvement of 23,5percent.
In the best local plant manufacturing passenger cars award, Mercedes-Benz takes top position for the second year in a row with only 57 problems per 100 vehicles. BMW comes second.
Richard Rice, client services director at Synovate, said looking across the segments, squeaks and rattles were by far the most common problem, followed by issues with electronically operated items. This compared to a low count of mechanical and performance problems.
"What this means is that vehicles are now far more reliable from a mechanical point of view and that other issues that do not necessarily impact on the basic reliability of vehicles are becoming more important to consumers," said Rice.
There are a host of reasons why squeaks, rattles and electronically operated items are the most reported.
"First, this is due to the amount of technology that has been introduced into cars these days," said Rice.
The Chevrolet Aveo 5-door now occupies first place in the small hatch segment. The Honda Jazz, which took gold for the past three years, now shares second position with the much-improved Opel Corsa.
The small sedan segment is now topped by the Toyota Yaris, which scores a very low 42 problems per 100. The Chevrolet Aveo 4-door and the Toyota Corolla take the second and third positions respectively.
The top hatch segment is topped by last year's second-placed Honda Civic hatch. The BMW 1 series enters the rankings in second place, with a new entrant, the Dodge Caliber taking third place.
The top sedan segment boasts three winners. Gold awards go to the Honda Civic (the only model to retain a spot in the top three), the Volkswagen Jetta and the Mazda 3.
In the medium segment, a three-way tie for gold between Mercedes-Benz C-Class petrol, Mercedes-Benz C-Class diesel and the Toyota Avensis emerges - all scoring very low problem counts.
"The medium segment is highly competitive," states Rice.