Michelin ranks highest in original equipment (OE) tire satisfaction in the luxury/sport, pickup/full-size van and SUV vehicle-based tire segments, and Pirelli ranks highest in the mass market/non-luxury segment, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Original Equipment Tire Satisfaction Study(SM) released today. The study, which measures owner satisfaction with the original tires that came equipped on their new vehicle, ranks tire manufacturers based on customer experiences in four vehicle-based tire segments: luxury/sport; mass-market/non-luxury; pickup/full-size van; and SUV. Overall satisfaction is determined based on five performance factors: appearance, handling, ride, traction and wearability. Rankings are based on owner experiences with their tires during the first year of ownership. Michelin ranks highest in the luxury/sport and SUV segments for a third consecutive year and ranks highest in the pickup/full-size van segment for a second consecutive year. Michelin performs well in all five factors that determine overall satisfaction in each of the three segments, receiving particularly high ratings in the wearability factor. In the mass market/non-luxury vehicle segment, Pirelli performs well across all five factors, with particularly high ratings in appearance and traction. The study finds that customer recommendations of tire brands are influenced by satisfaction with tire performance, the types of problems that may be experienced and by a need for tire replacement. When it comes to problems, only 1 percent of customers who experience poor traction/grip on a dry road, for example, indicate they “definitely will” give a recommendation, and only 5 percent intend to repurchase their OE tire brand. Conversely, among customers who experience a road hazard/puncture problem, 16 percent indicate they “definitely will” recommend their tires and 34 percent intend on repurchasing their same original equipment tire brand. Repurchase intention and recommendations are also greatly impacted by whether or not a customer had to replace any of their OE tires. Among customers who did not need to replace any of their tires, 93 percent report they “definitely will” give a recommendation and 89 percent intend to repurchase the same brand. Looking at those who needed to replace one or more of their OE tires, only 7 percent would give a recommendation and 11 percent would repurchase the same brand. “While some problems have a greater impact on customer satisfaction than others, having any type of problem can affect a customer’s likelihood to recommend and remain loyal to their OE tire brand,” said Carolyn McBeth, director of automotive component research for J.D. Power and Associates. “Road hazards that cause common wear and tear on tires are normal and somewhat expected, or are at least tolerated, but issues such as poor traction/grip on dry roads and fast tread wear can have a more significant impact on a customer’s overall impression of a tire brand.” The study also finds that tire wearability continues to be the most important factor in overall OE tire satisfaction. Of the five factors measured, wearability has the lowest satisfaction ratings from customers. “In general, tire manufacturers will see the largest return on investment if they are able to improve in the wearability factor,” said McBeth. “Manufacturers may want to consider educating their customers on what constitutes a worn tire in an effort to more successfully meet owner expectations.” The study is based on responses from more than 32,000 owners who purchased a new vehicle between 2004 and 2005.