LAS VEGAS—Car and light truck owners ranked Michelin and BFGoodrich brands tops in the passenger and light truck categories of J.D. Power and Associates' 1999 Original Equipment Tire Satisfaction Study. It was the second consecutive year that Michelin garnered the No. 1 ranking in the study's passenger vehicle segment, which includes owners of both cars and compact vans. Following Michelin in the rankings were Continental, Yokohama and Goodyear in that order.
Among the 12 OE passenger tire brands evaluated, only these four scored above the industry average, J.D. Power said.
In addition to this latest No. 1 ranking among the 12 OE passenger tire brands evaluated, Michelin also received two other J.D. Power awards earlier this year—similar top rankings among replacement passenger and light truck tire brands.
At the recent International Tire Expo in Las Vegas, John Grimaldi, executive vice president of OE for Michelin North America Inc., said customers are most interested in tire performance, traction and reliability. He said the award wouldn't detract Michelin from continuing to develop quality products.
Michelin noted that its flag brand has received 22 of 30 possible awards since 1989, when J.D. Power added tires to its annual customer satisfaction studies.
BFGoodrich ranked No. 1 in the study's light-truck segment, which included owners of compact and full-sized sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks and full-sized vans.
Ranked directly behind BFGoodrich in the light truck segment were Michelin, Goodyear and Firestone brands in that order.
This was the first year that light truck tires were evaluated separately from passenger tires in the J.D. Power OE and replacement studies. The Agoura Hills, Calif.-based marketing information firm, which also conducts a similar annual survey of brand satisfaction among replacement tire buyers, said it decided to rank light truck tires on their own due to the special demands placed on them by four-wheel-drive, heavy-duty towing and occasional off-road use.
Also for the first time in 1999, the scope of the study was expanded to include owners of 2- and 3-year-old vehicles. This was done to gain a better understanding of OE tire satisfaction and brand loyalty over the life cycle of the tire, said Jeff Zupancic, senior manager of the tire practice at J.D. Power.
Tire satisfaction declines as mileage, wear and problems increase, but it declines at a faster rate for light-truck owners transitioning from year two to year three.
"This is a key improvement opportunity for tire manufacturers as they strive to maximize light truck owner OE tire satisfaction," he said.
Among the reasons why some survey respondents said they wouldn't repurchase the same OE tire brand were a desire for longer-wearing tires, the relatively high cost of their OE brand and having experienced too many problems with it.
The study indicated that product quality is the primary driver of OE tire satisfaction, followed by long-term performance, situational performance, design and winter traction.
"Consumer perception of tire quality is judged primarily on the number of problems experienced and whether those problems resulted in tire replacement," Mr. Zupancic said.
The study surveyed the opinions of more than 28,000 U.S. owners and leaseholders of 1996-1998 passenger cars, vans, pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles.