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A weak Malaysian car market, brought down by a sluggish economy, rising car prices and the implementation of GST has seen some improvement. It has been invigorated by new model launches, according to the JD Power 2016 Malaysia Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) that was released today.

With sales volume declining year-on-year, the local car industry has been focusing on improving the buying experience for the customer. This is shown by an improvement in the overall sales satisfaction score – 789 out of a possible 1,000 points – a 37 point improvement over the previous year.

“The excitement that surrounds a new model launch has the ability to draw customers into the showrooms,” said Mohit Arora, regional vice president at JD Power. “Car dealers that fully capitalise on their customers’ heightened interest with an energising shopping experience can gain from highly satisfied customers who are more likely to repurchase and recommend.”

Overall, the JD Power SSI study indicated that owners of newly-launched vehicles reported having a higher satisfaction with their purchase than those who bought cars from the existing model range – 804 versus 787 points.

Based on the survey results, 92% of customers reported having a hassle-free purchase process, which represents an 11% improvement over 2015. In addition, 94% of car buyers said that sales personnel are more focused on providing in-depth explanation on features and benefits of the vehicle.

The domestic car market has also improved in its satisfaction index, closing the gap with international makes. The SSI shows that Malaysian buyers are more satisfied, reaching 783 points in 2016 from 736 in 2015, and closing to within 11 points of international brands, from 34 points previously.

For mass market brand performance, Mitsubishi is at the top of the SSI rankings, with an almost perfect score across the categories – satisfaction, sales initiation, dealership, deal, salesperson, delivery timing and process. In close second was Mazda, with Toyota taking third, while for local brands, Perodua came in above Proton.