2014 Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study Results
By Jeff Youngs,
Automakers are adding third-row seating to more vehicles in response to consumer demand, but the just-published J.D. Power 2014 Seat Quality and Satisfaction StudySM indicates that they may be sacrificing overall consumer satisfaction by doing so and, inevitably, losing cargo space.
The study finds that the overall industry average for seat-related problems in 2014 is 9.1 problems per 100 vehicles (PP100), an improvement of 0.4 PP100 over 2013. Among owners of vehicles with third-row seating, 54% report that passengers use that third row at least once a month, with 41% of these owners carrying passengers in the third row at least once a week.
"There is demand on third-row seats and automakers are trying to meet that demand," said Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of global automotive at J.D. Power. "The challenge is to provide a functional third-row seat that meets customer needs and expectations without compromising quality, comfort and space. It's easier to do that in a larger vehicle, but automakers and seat suppliers need to find a way to also meet consumer expectations in the growth area, which is smaller SUVs and MPVs."
VanNieuwkuyk added that the main issues that need to be addressed are getting into and out of third-row seats; the additional wear, soiling and scuffing that usage creates; and the need to provide options to better manage cargo when the third-row seating is in use.
The overall percentage of new vehicles that offer third-row seats remains stable in 2014 compared with 2013, but 23% of mass market trucks/vans now offer third-row seating compared with 19% in 2013, while 1.7% of mass market compact SUV/MPVs do so, compared with 0.3% last year. The mass market compact SUV/MPV segment--the smallest segment in the third-row market--averages 13.0 seat-related problems per 100 (PP100) vehicles, compared with the industry average of 11.5 PP100 for vehicles with third-row seating. The larger vehicles in the mass market truck/van segment have the fewest seat-related problems (8.6 PP100) among those offering third-row seating. The industry average for seat-related problems among vehicles that do not have third-row seating is 8.7 PP100.
The study also reveals that when owners experience a problem with a manual seat control, the most common reason cited is that the controls are physically hard to operate. Owners who experience problems with power seat controls, on the other hand, very rarely indicate that the controls are hard to operate. They're more likely to report problems with the placement of the controls.
Johnson Controls Garners Three Segment Awards for Seat Quality
Among seat suppliers, Johnson Controls achieves three segment awards for seat quality, while Avanzar Interior Technologies and Magna each receive two awards. Bridgewater Interiors, Hyundai Seat Division, and Lear Corp. each rank highest in one segment.
Johnson Controls ranks highest (in a tie) in the luxury SUV segment for its seats in the Land Rover Range Rover Evoque and Porsche Cayenne. Additionally, Johnson Controls ranks highest (in a three-way tie) in the mass market truck/van segment for the Ford F-250/F-350 Super Duty. Avanzar Interior Technologies, Ltd. ranks highest (in a three-way tie) in the mass market truck/van segment, receiving two awards for the Toyota Tacoma and Toyota Tundra. Magna ranks highest in the mass market compact SUV/MPV segment for the Ford C-Max, and in the luxury car segment for the Porsche Panamera.
Bridgewater Interiors ranks highest in the mass market midsize/large SUV segment (Honda Pilot); Hyundai Seat Division ranks highest in the mass market compact car segment (Hyundai Elantra); and Lear Corporation ranks highest in the mass market midsize/large car segment (Buick Regal).
About the Study
The 2014 Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study provides automotive manufacturers and suppliers with quality and satisfaction information related to automotive seating systems. New-vehicle owners are asked to rate the quality of their vehicle seats and seat belts based on whether or not they experienced defects/malfunctions or design problems during the first 90 days of ownership. The study is based on responses from more than 86,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2014 model-year cars and light trucks. The study was fielded between February and May 2014.