It's the one thing auto execs constantly worry about. Making sure the launch of a new or re-designed model hits the target.
It sounds simple, but historically there are numerous cases where an auto maker puts a new car or truck in showrooms and it falls short of expectations.
Sometimes woefully short.
Lately though, the new or re-designed models are giving customers more of what they want. J.D. Power has released its APEAL (automotive performance execution and layout) study which looks at how well new models deliver what customers want.
The good news: this years APEAL score for all-new and redesigned models averages 790 on a 1,000-point scale. That's 11 points higher than last year and the highest in the three years of the study. Furthermore, the domestic auto makers have closed the gap with foreign competitors. The domestics trail by just five points in the latest survey, compared with 15 points in 2008 and 27 points in 2007.
So why are buyers happier with what they are seeing in showrooms?
Much of it is because new car buyers are more satisfied with the fuel economy of their new ride.
J.D. Power admits some of that satisfaction is due to lower prices at the pump, but the fact more people are buying four cylinder models also plays a role. The growth, and acceptance of more fuel efficient four cylinder engines has picked up in the last two years. The fact that four bangers are no longer pint size econo-boxes helps explain why people like driving four cylinders.