BMW has ranked highest in satisfying new vehicle buyers with the purchase experience for a second consecutive year, according to the JD Power and Associates 2007 South Africa sales satisfaction index study.

The study rated the sales and delivery procedure on delivery process, salesperson, negotiated price, paperwork/finance process and dealership facility (15%).

BMW led the rankings with an overall SSI score of 874, followed by Chevrolet (871), Subaru (863), Volvo (860) and Mercedes-Benz (858). Included in the study for the first time, Lexus ranked sixth.

JDP said BMW - which has a local supply and export factory in South Africa - continued to set the benchmark in three of the five factors: dealership facility, salesperson and delivery process. General Motors' Chevrolet, which sells a mix of GMDAT and rebadged Australian Holden models, and has performed well in South Africa since the inception of the study in 2005, received favourable ratings from customers across all factors. Additionally, Subaru performed particularly well in paperwork/finance process and price negotiations.

"Overall, premium and Japanese nameplates perform well and earn above-average scores in providing a satisfying purchase experience, which is a pattern that has been demonstrated in our research around the world," said Brian Walters, vice president of J.D. Power and Associates Europe, Middle East and Africa operations. "Giving new-vehicle buyers positive experiences during the early stages of vehicle ownership often creates enduring customer relationships. These customers are much more likely to return to the selling dealer for service and maintenance visits later in the ownership cycle. Ultimately, providing a superior sales experience lays a strong foundation for building brand and dealer loyalty among customers."

The study found that non-premium nameplates registered the greatest improvements in 2007. In particular, the Daihatsu, Subaru, Nissan, Volkswagen and Citroen brands all improved by at least 20 SSI points since 2006. Increases in salesperson factor scores primarily drove these improvements.