The NADA Dealer Satisfaction Index survey now in its 25th year

  • The National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA) Dealer Satisfaction Index (DSI) survey measures dealers’ satisfaction with various automotive brands
  • DSI survey forms vital link between dealers and manufacturers
  • A total of 39 independently researched brands across all vehicle types from passenger vehicles through heavy commercials formed part of the survey
  • Survey is an effective management tool to improve service delivery for the ultimate benefit of consumers

The National Automobile Dealers’ Association (NADA) Dealer Satisfaction Index Survey (DSI) results were released recently, following its suspension in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021 a total of 39 independently researched brands formed part of the survey. A total of 1,223 completed responses were received, 1,054 of these responses were from Passenger / Light Commercial Vehicle (LCV) dealerships and 169 were from Commercial Vehicle dealerships.

The NADA DSI survey, which marks its silver anniversary this year, is carried out annually to monitor the health of the relationship between dealers and their respective manufacturers. It provides the dealer body with a platform to provide manufacturers and importers with robust feedback. Over the years, the outcomes of the survey have been used by dealer councils and manufacturers as an effective management tool to address areas of concern and improve service delivery throughout the entire value chain to the ultimate benefit of consumers.

The DSI project has been actively supported by NADA Executive Members, NADA Dealer Council Chairpersons and representatives of participating brands over the 25 years of its existence. Lightstone, responsible for conducting the research since the introduction of this project in 1996, notes that despite the overall DSI score decreasing by 1% in 2021 to 76.1% the results in 2021 remain the second highest score recorded since 2003. The survey results are divided into a number of key focus areas which are areas of interest to the NADA membership at large.

“While the Covid-19 pandemic forced us to abandon the survey in 2020, we were extremely happy that we were able to complete the research this year. The survey this year included questions about the support that dealers received from their respective brand during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Mark Dommisse, Chairperson of NADA.

The results for the awards for all platforms are calculated from a scorecard with respective questions given various weightings. Bronze winners score between 65 and 69.9 points, Silver between 70 and 74.9, and Gold between 75 and 84.9. In 2017 a Platinum tier was introduced as part of the NADA DSI criteria for award for brands achieving 85% or above in overall satisfaction.

Passenger and LCV Results

The most improved overall brand in 2021 is Mitsubishi (+10.6%). Other brands that showcased a significant positive increase in overall satisfaction is Suzuki (+7.3%), followed by Mini (+4.0%) and Hyundai (+3.2%).

Hyundai and Mini both achieved Platinum Status in 2021, while 11 Manufacturers achieved Gold status. The Gold award winners are Suzuki, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Lexus, Volvo, Kia, BMW, Renault, and Ford. Four brands achieved Silver status in 2021 and five brands achieved Bronze status.

Summary of results:

Passenger/ LCV 
AwardManufacturer or Importer
Most ImprovedMitsubishi
PlatinumHyundai and Mini
GoldSuzuki, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Lexus, Volvo, Kia, BMW, Renault, and Ford
SilverMahindra, Volkswagen, Peugeot-Citroёn and Subaru
BronzeIsuzu, Audi, Nissan, Datsun and FCA

Commercial Vehicle results

The Commercial Vehicle survey was first introduced in 2008. Since 2011, the highest overall average score of 78% was recorded in 2018.

Hino is the only Commercial brand winning a Platinum award in 2021 with MAN, Mercedes-Benz Bus and Mercedes-Benz Trucks being awarded Gold.

The most improved brand in the 2021 NADA DSI is MAN, moving from an overall percentage of 67.0% in 2019 to 79.6% in 2021, making it a new Gold award winner.

Hino, once again, achieved the highest overall satisfaction score, followed by MAN, Mercedes-Benz Bus, Mercedes-Benz Trucks, and Isuzu Trucks to complete the Top 5. Four brands, Isuzu Trucks, FUSO, UD Trucks and FAW achieved Silver status. No Bronze awards were made in 2021.

Commercial Vehicles 
AwardManufacturer or Importer
Most ImprovedMAN
PlatinumHino
GoldMAN, Mercedes-Benz Bus and Mercedes-Benz Trucks
SilverIsuzu Trucks, FUSO, UD Trucks and FAW
Bronzenil

“Our warm congratulations go to all the Platinum, Gold, Silver and Bronze award winners and we hope to see more manufacturers moving to the Gold and Platinum award categories during the next round of evaluations in 2022.

“It is encouraging to see that, over the past 25 years, the NADA dealer survey has become a reliable and respected tool to identify any potential issues affecting the working relationship between retailers and respective manufacturers. We extend our sincere appreciation to all who have taken the time to participate in this annual initiative,” concludes Dommisse.