Fiat Chrysler Dealers Flunk Service Test

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Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Inc.’s (NASDAQ: FCAU) sales have faltered recently. Its rankings in auto quality surveys have as well. Now, a new study of dealer services puts FCA’s brands at the bottom again.

Based on results from the 2017 Pied Piper PSI Internet Lead Effectiveness Benchmarking Study, which “measured how auto dealerships responded to customer inquiries received through a dealership website,” FCA’s Ram and Chrysler divisions finished last with scores of 45. The national average was 54. Dodge finished just above them at 47, tied with Buick. Fiat and Jeep were just above that with scores of 48. All the FCA brands lost ground from the previous year’s study. For contrast, Porsche finished at the top with a score of 65. BMW was next at 63.

The industry itself has had a hard time recently:

Industry average performance has been flat over the past five years and dropped slightly from 2016 to 2017, with 22 of 32 brands declining. The overall industry decline was driven by fewer responses in 2017, with one customer in eight failing to receive a response of any type—even an automated response—within 24 hours. Three out of ten customers failed to receive a personal response within 24 hours. Despite this overall industry decline, 11 brands improved their response rate from 2016 to 2017.

Year over previous year also showed weakness among FCA brands:

Among the largest manufacturers in the 2017 study, Ford remained ranked highest, but Chevrolet climbed ahead of Honda, Nissan and Toyota, all of which were ranked above the industry average.

Ford and Lincoln have been ranked consistently above the industry average for the past five years, with Ford the top-scoring non-luxury brand for the past two years.

Chevrolet is one of only two brands to improve each year for the past three years, ranked above the industry average this year for the first time. Cadillac and GMC also improved from last year, ranked just below the industry average. Buick was unchanged, scoring well below the industry average.

Honda and Acura have been ranked above the industry average for the past three years.

Toyota has been ranked at or above the industry average for the past three years, and Lexus has finished not only above average, but ranked at or near the top of the industry.

Nissan has been ranked above the industry average for the past two years, and Infiniti has been ranked close to the top of the industry for the past three years.

Last year, most Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brand scores dipped below the industry average, and that decline continued again this year.

So, Fiat Chrysler has three hurdles: quality, sales and dealer behavior.