J.D. Power has announced its 2018 Malaysia Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) Study, which is a comprehensive analysis of the new-vehicle purchase and delivery experience based on responses from 2,477 car buyers who bought their cars between September 2017 and May 2018.

For the 16th year of the study, J.D. Power redesigned the six weighted factors that affected overall customer satisfaction with the new-vehicle purchase experience. These include dealer sales consultant (26%); dealership facility (25%); delivery process (19%); working out the deal (14%); paperwork completion (14%); and dealership website (2%).

Based on the results, Nissan managed to leap last year’s leaders, Isuzu and Toyota, to take its place at the very top with a score of 812 points (following a 1,000-point scale). Coming in second place is Isuzu with 797 points, while third place Honda (795 points) improved upon its position from last year to overtake Toyota, which is now in fourth place with 791 points.

Another gainer here is Mitsubishi with 787 points, which places the brand just above the mass market average of 784 points. Beyond that, Proton improved from last year with a higher position and a score of 782 points, while Volkswagen appears on the list with 779 points. Mazda found itself placed further down the rankings with 781 points, and Perodua is at the bottom with 774 points.

According to J.D. Power, car buyers were more satisfied when engaging with experienced sales consultants that used digital devices. Unsurprisingly, many also expected a thorough explanation of available features when the vehicle is delivered, and welcomed follow-up clarification efforts. Customers also prefer when sales consultants have the autonomy to quickly secure a deal rather than having to wait for the thumbs up from their supervisor.

Aside from these key findings, the study also revealed that a growing number of buyers (59%) researched online for information such as the price, features and specifications of a vehicle. Those who do access information online were also more inclined to contact the dealership prior to a physical visit to cross-check details as well as compare pricing across different dealerships.

It is also discovered that financial considerations are the most influential reason for purchasing a vehicle (46% of respondents), primarily affecting those aged 29 years and younger. Curiously, younger buyers are also found to be less style-driven than older buyers when purchasing their vehicle.

“Car buyers in Malaysia, especially younger buyers, are increasingly concerned about the cost of owning a vehicle and are turning to online channels to aid in their research on the best available deals,” said Muhammad Asyraf Bin Mustafar, country head of Malaysia at J.D. Power.

“Brands that can offer a competitive pricing model through flexible financing options, better fuel economy, customized maintenance packages and higher residual values are likely to attract more customers. Similarly, it is important that brands can match their product offerings with their customers’ purchase reasons,” he added.