Fiat and Other Chrysler Brands Hit Rock Bottom in Customer Service

Douglas A. McIntyre

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (NYSE: FCAU) continues its string of poor performances in customer satisfaction ratings from major consumer research firms. Its most recent ratings put its brands at the bottom of the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Customer Service Index Study. Its Fiat brand was at the very bottom.

J.D. Power management said the study is based on “customer satisfaction with service at a franchised dealer or independent service facility for maintenance or repair work among owners and lessees of 1- to 3-year-old vehicles.” Brands were ranked on a scale from 1 to 1,000.

And the firm added:

The 2018 U.S. CSI Study is based on responses from 74,021 owners and lessees of 2015 to 2017 model-year vehicles. The study was fielded in October-December 2017.

Fiat’s grade of 744 put it well below all other brands of mass-market cars, which J.D. Power measured separately from luxury brands. The mass-market average was a score of 820. Buick topped the list with a grade of 850. Second from the bottom, Fiat Chryslers Ram pickup brand had a rating of 781, which tied it with Fiat Chrysler’s Dodge brand. Next from the bottom, Jeep got a rating of 784. Barely above them, the Chrysler brand received a score of 788.

Fiat’s sales have been awful this year, after a rough 2017. Unit sales for the first two months of 2018 were down 43% to 2,470. It is hard to understand why Fiat Chrysler continues to support the brand in the United States.

Among luxury car brands, Nissan’s Infiniti received the top score of 786. The average score among all luxury brands was 862. Just behind Infiniti, Porsche received a score of 874, while Volkswagen’s Audi, General Motors Co.’s (NYSE: GM) Cadillac and Toyota Motor Corp.’s (NYSE: TM) Lexus all received ratings of 871. At the bottom of the luxury brand ranking, Land Rover had a grade of 812.

Fiat Chrysler’s poor image among consumers must be a drag on sales, because so many people track the large customer service studies, which include several from J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. Yet, the company’s brands have had trouble moving from the position of bottom dwellers, which is an indictment of the company’s quality car and service records.