U.S. Automakers Drag Owner Sentiment to 11-Year Low Amid Recalls

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U.S. car owners’ satisfaction with their vehicles slid to the lowest since 2004 amid surging recalls and rising prices, an annual survey found.

Consumer sentiment fell to 79 out of 100, from 82 last year for the third straight annual decline, the American Customer Satisfaction Index said in a statement Tuesday. No U.S. brand in the survey improved its score from the previous year.

Recalls are at more than 36 million vehicles so far this year after a record of about 64 million in 2014, including high-profile cases such as General Motors Co. ignition switches linked to more than 100 deaths. Even so, with fuel costs and interest rates relatively low, the industry is flirting with sales levels not seen in more than a decade and average selling prices have jumped 15 percent since before the recession.

“While it is true that all cars are now much better than they were 10 to 20 years ago, it is alarming that so many of them have quality problems,” Claes Fornell, the survey company’s founder and chairman, said in the statement. Owners reported a 40 percent jump in recalls from a year earlier, ACSI said.

Japanese and South Korean brands scored higher than their U.S. and European counterparts, according to the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based company’s survey of about 4,300 customers in the second quarter.

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Lexus topped the list at 84. Three other luxury marques, Honda Motor Co.’s Acura, Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz, tied for second at 83.

GM’s main brand, Chevrolet, fell to 79 from 82 a year earlier. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, which came under scrutiny by U.S. regulators for its handling of recalls and agreed to pay a record penalty of $105 million and buy back more than a half million vehicles, had three brands at the bottom of the ACSI rankings.

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