Americans may love their cars, but these days they love them a little less.
Consumer satisfaction with their cars has fallen for the third consecutive year, reflecting unhappiness with increasing recalls and rising prices, according to new data from the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
Car reliability has improved overall in the past decade but the number of recalls is at an all-time high. “This should not happen with modern manufacturing technology and has negative consequences for driver safety, costs, and customer satisfaction,” ACSI Chairman and founder Claes Fornell said in a statement.
Car owners in the second quarter of 2015 reported a 40 percent increase in recalls year over year. The most high profile recalls involve Takata airbags, affecting more than 17 million older-model vehicles built by 11 different auto makers.
Looking at individual brands, the index shows that Americans prefer Japanese and luxury brand cars, with Lexus displacing Mercedes Benz as the brand with the highest overall satisfaction (84 out of 100). Mercedes tied for second place with Acura and Lincoln.
The average for all autos fell 3.7 points to 79. The only American automaker to rank above average was Ford with a score of 81. General Motors and Chrysler saw their scores fall modestly to 79 and 75 respectively.
Despite a growing decline in satisfaction, Americans are holding onto their vehicles longer than ever. The average age of cars and light trucks is now 11.5 years old, according to a report issued last month by IHS Automotive.
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The White House on Friday unveiled plans for a new effort to ramp up testing for Covid-19, which experts say is an essential part of limiting the spread of the virus. This chart from Vox gives a sense of just how far the U.S. has to go to catch up to other countries that are dealing with the pandemic, including South Korea, the leading virus screener with 3,692 tests per million people. The U.S., by comparison, has done about 23 tests per million people as of March 12.
The Air Force has scrapped a planned upgrade of its B-2 stealth bomber fleet — even after spending $2 billion on the effort — because defense contractor Northrup Grumman didn’t have the necessary software expertise to complete the project on time and on budget, Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio reports, citing the Pentagon’s chief weapons buyer.
Ellen Lord, the undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, told reporters that the nearly $2 billion that had already been spent on the program wasn’t wasted because “we are still going to get upgraded electronic displays.”
Bernie Sanders wants to eliminate $1.6 trillion in student debt, to be paid for by a tax on financial transactions, but doing so won’t be easy, says Josh Mitchell of The Wall Street Journal.
The main problem for Sanders is that most Americans don’t support the plan, with 57% of respondents in a poll last fall saying they oppose the idea of canceling all student debt. And the politics are particularly thorny for Sanders as he prepares for a likely general election run, Mitchell says: “Among the strongest opponents are groups Democrats hope to peel away from President Trump: Rust Belt voters, independents, whites, men and voters in rural areas.”
That’s how much Michael Bloomberg is spending per day in his pursuit of the Democratic presidential nomination, according to new monthly filings with the Federal Election Commission. “In January alone, Bloomberg dropped more than $220 million on his free-spending presidential campaign,” The Hill says. “That breaks down to about $7.1 million a day, $300,000 an hour or $5,000 per minute.”