J.D. Power & Associates has long been known as the firm that can sway the fortunes of automakers with its many surveys on quality, dependability and customer satisfaction. All of the firm's work to date has focused on a buyer's experience after he or she purchases a new vehicle... until now. Perhaps feeling the need to diversify its services in this difficult economic climate, J.D. Power is throwing opens its doors to automakers as a kind of third-party launch consultant. The firm is introducing what it calls a Vehicle Launch Index that gauges the success of a new model launch for automakers. According to J.D. Power, factors that go into judging the success of a launch include "turn rate, credit quality, residual factor, dealer gross profit, vehicle price and incentive spend." We don't know what half of those things mean, but can tell you that we base our judgment of a vehicle's launch success solely on the quality of hor d'ourves served at its auto show debut.

We have no doubt that automakers will line up for the new Vehicle Launch Index (they love this type of data, which makes good memo material), though we hope J.D. Power returns with a ranking for the 50-some new product launches that are slated for 2009.

[Source: J.D. Power & Associates]

PRESS RELEASE

J.D. Power and Associates Unveils Assessment Tool for Monitoring Success of New Model Launches

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 23 January 2009 - In an effort to assist auto manufacturers in assessing the success of vehicle launches, J.D. Power and Associates announced the introduction of its Vehicle Launch Index today at the 2009 Automotive Roundtable in New Orleans, La.

The Vehicle Launch Index provides automakers with information that quantifies how well new vehicle models perform during their launch years. Performance is measured against industry and segment benchmarks on a monthly basis. The index includes all vehicle launches in the U.S. since 2007 and is actively tracking all current and future vehicle launches.

"With the introduction of the Vehicle Launch Index, manufacturers are now able to gauge the marketplace success of their newly launched vehicles through an external, independent source," said Gary Dilts, senior vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates. "The Vehicle Launch Index provides a real-time, comprehensive view into marketplace activity, allowing manufacturers to quickly respond to ever-changing industry conditions."

Extensive research and modeling, combined with an industry-wide perspective and proprietary Power Information Network® (PIN) data, has resulted in the unique ability to assess multiple factors that are critical to launch success. The Vehicle Launch Index examines factors that include turn rate, credit quality, residual factor, dealer gross profit, vehicle price and incentive spend.

"In 2009, manufacturers are making multibillion-dollar investments in more than 50 major product launches in the U.S. alone," said Dilts. "Current market conditions demand a need for a third-party, syndicated assessment to ensure manufacturers maximize the return on their investment."

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