Toyota ranked highest overall in satisfying German customers for the third consecutive year, according to the JD Power and Associates 2004 Germany customer satisfaction index (CSI) study.

Toyota models ranked highest in three out of seven new vehicle segments. Honda and Mazda, along with Porsche and Peugeot, each had top-ranking models in one segment.

The top-ranked models in each of the seven segments were:

Small Car: Honda Jazz
Lower Medium Car: Toyota Corolla
Upper Medium Car: Toyota Avensis
Executive/Luxury Car: Peugeot 607
Sports Car: Porsche 911
MPV: Mazda Premacy
SUV: Toyota RAV4

The study, now in its third year, is published in cooperation with mot: Die Autozeitschrift and measures overall ownership satisfaction with new vehicles in Germany. The study analyses customer satisfaction based on responses encompassing 77 attributes grouped into four key measures (the importance of each measure is shown as a percentage): quality and reliability (30%); vehicle appeal (25%), which includes performance, design, comfort and features; service satisfaction (23%); and ownership costs (22%), which includes fuel consumption, insurance and costs of service/repairs.

The top four brands in the overall ranking were Japanese. Toyota scored 844 points out of a possible 1,000, placing it significantly ahead of Mazda, Subaru and Honda, which scored 816, 815, and 811, respectively. BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and, for the first time Opel, performed above the industry average.

Among the brands placing above industry average, Opel was the most improved brand in comparison to 2003. Opel improved 14 points overall, due to improvements in service satisfaction, as well as quality and reliability and ownership costs. Other European brands, including SEAT, Skoda, smart, Volkswagen and Volvo, also significantly improved in comparison to 2003. The industry average increased by 5 points during this time period.

"It is encouraging for the industry to witness the improvements made by high-volume European manufacturers like Opel and Volkswagen. In particular, both brands have greatly improved in the area of dealer service. However, the strong record of the Japanese brands on meeting customer expectations means that all European manufacturers still have some considerable work to do to match their levels of customer satisfaction," said Martin Volk at JD Power.

Only two of the seven segments werenot dominated by Japanese manufacturers. In the sports car segment the Porsche 911 ranked highest, followed by the BMW Z3 and Mercedes-Benz CLK. The executive/luxury segment was also a strength for European brands. Here, the segment was led by the Peugeot 607, a relatively unpopular model, which scored particularly well for interior and exterior design.

The 2004 Germany CSI study was based on the responses of 24,483 vehicle owners who rated their experiences with their vehicles, their dealers and the cost of ownership after two years. 28 brands and 119 models were included in the study.