By Vince Bond, Automotive News
Detroit, Michigan -- For the third year in a row, Avanzar Interior Technologies Ltd earned a top spot in the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Seat Supplier Quality Rankings.
Avanzar, a joint venture between Johnson Controls Inc. and SAT Auto Technologies Ltd, tied with TS Tech Co. Ltd. with a score of 3.3 problems per 100 vehicles, J.D. Power reported today.
Toyo Seat, NHK Spring Co. and Daewon Sanup Co. rounded out the top five, with scores of 4.0 to 4.8 problems per 100 vehicles.
The industry average is 5.5 problems per 100 vehicles, down from 6.2 in the 2008 US Seat Quality and Satisfaction Study.
J.D. Power said other suppliers that performed well in overall seat satisfaction were Bridgewater Interiors llc; Faurecia; Lear Corp.; Magna International Inc.; and Toyota Boshoku Corp.
From February to May 2012, 74 700 new-vehicle owners of 2012 cars and light trucks were asked if their seats and seat belts had defects, malfunctions or design problems during the first 90 days of ownership.
People are buying smaller vehicles to save fuel, but they don't want give up the comfort they enjoyed in the mid-sized and premium segments, Mike VanNieuwkuyk, executive director of Global Automotive at J.D. Power and Associates, said in an interview.
Owner satisfaction with seats in the compact and subcompact segments is on the rise as automakers bend to the will of consumers who want higher quality in lower-end vehicles. On a 10-point-scale, J.D. Power found that seat satisfaction for the compacts and subcompacts averaged 7.5 points, up from 7.3 in its 2008 study.
According to the study, 27 percent of new-vehicle owners replaced their vehicle with a smaller 2012 model.
The market penetration of seat features in compact and subcompact vehicles -- including heated seating and leather -- have increased since 2008. Market penetration for heated seats in these vehicles expanded 16 percent.
The same was true for leather seats, which rose 10 percent. The take rate for memory seats grew by 3 percent, and the rate for cooled/ventilated seats increased 2 percent.
"You don't see as much disparity as you did in the past where it was a very basic interior on the low end of the market and as you migrated up it became nicer materials, nicer amenities, and things of that nature," VanNieuwkuyk said. "We're now starting to see those features on the low end of the market as well."
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