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IF information is king, then US-based global data and analytics company J.D. Power has taken the crown after its purchase of Australian and European like-minded rival, Autovista Group, owner of assets including Glass’s Guide.

J.D. Power said the move would allow it to make “a bold entry” into the European market that would help car-makers “be more efficient and save money.”

“The Autovista Group acquisition complements J.D. Power’s strengths in vehicle valuation and detailed vehicle specification data and analytics while broadening its footprint into the European and Australian automotive markets,” it said.

“The deal will bring together Autovista’s comprehensive European and Australian market intelligence with J.D. Power’s market-leading predictive analytics and valuation and customer experience datasets.

“Retail consumers – along with fleet, finance and dealer customers – will benefit through a solution that offers transparent precise vehicle valuations and residuals for vehicles across North America and Europe. These valuations are based on billions of data points.”

This will be the third time that the J.D. Power service offerings have been introduced into Australia.

In the 1990s founder Dave Power formed a joint venture with the founder of Australian Market Research, Brian Fine, to conduct consumer and dealer satisfaction surveys.  The results of the dealer surveys were reviewed each year in John Mellor’s GoAuto Business Briefings but those specific surveys came to a halt after competitive secret research run by the OEMs was launched.

J.D. Power moved the headquarters of its Australian operations to Singapore in 2018 to merge its wider business efforts in South East Asia but announced plans to close the operation in 2019.

Later that year, J.D. Power was purchased by investment company Thoma Bravo for around two billion dollars. The move saw the end of the company’s famous consumer studies in Australia and throughout the ASEAN region including Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand.

These syndicated studies, in which J.D. Power performs the research with extensive consumer questionnaires and then sells the detailed results to interested parties, mainly car-makers, were wound down – including the Australian Customer Service Index (CSI) and Sales Satisfaction Index (SSI) studies.

With its acquisition of Autovista, the J.D. Power brand can be re-established off the back of the established Glass’s business which has a long history in Australia.

Meanwhile, J.D. Power said in a statement that because car-makers think globally and organise their manufacturing, sales and marketing groups accordingly “the EU will likely be one of the first, if not the first, battleground where global automakers compete for leadership in the transition to electric vehicles.”

“The winners will be those with the best information,” it said.

“A leading source of that information will be J.D. Power, with its billions of data points accumulated during half a century in the US now combined with the extensive data from Autovista Group that focuses on the EU and Australia.”

J.D. Power CEO Dave Habiger said the amalgamation of his company and Autovista would give OEMs, dealers, insurers and financing companies “a truly global view of critical trends influencing the industry.”

It would also give them the tools needed to accurately forecast risk, capitalise on burgeoning trends and align sales strategy with real-time market dynamics.

“Additionally, as US consumers increasingly adopt the European model of configuring and ordering a custom vehicle specification, rather than picking whatever the dealer has on the lot, Autovista’s detailed, vehicle-specific data and analytics will give OEMs critical information they need to navigate this change in consumer behaviour,” Mr Habiger said.

“We are excited for the Autovista team to join J.D. Power and for the future growth opportunities we will pursue together.”

Autovista Group has five brands – Autovista, Eurotax, Glass’s, Schwacke and Rødboka — and standardises and categorises hundreds of technical attributes for virtually every vehicle produced in the European and Australian markets.

This provides clients with “a 360-degree view of detailed vehicle data for use in valuations, forecasts and repair estimates,” Autovista said.

Autovista Group CEO Lindsey Roberts said: “The global automobile industry is undergoing a historic transformation in which an ever-increasing array of models and fuel types, volatile swings in used car values and lingering supply chain challenges are making it more difficult than ever to project future value and understand total cost of ownership.”

“By pairing our leading pan-Europe and Australia-focused datasets with J.D. Power’s robust North American and Asian market data, analytics and insights, we are creating the truly global solution the industry needs to manage through this period of radical change.”

Autovista Group’s senior leadership and its 700 employees will continue with the company and will become J.D. Power’s automotive data and analytics platform for Europe and Australia.

Lindsey Roberts will continue to lead the team as president, J.D. Power – Europe and J.D. Power – Australia reporting to CEO Dave Habiger.

Autovista Group is currently owned by Hayfin Capital Management, a leading European alternative asset management firm.

Hayfin CEO Carlos Pla said “it has been a pleasure working with CEO Lindsey Roberts and the entire Autovista team. Together, we have successfully grown the business and executed the strategy to become a purely digital player and better serve the increasingly digital automotive ecosystem.”

The acquisition of Autovista Group is expected to close by the end of 2023 and is subject to customary closing conditions as well as regulatory review and approval.

J.D. Power has become a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services and data and analytics. It is a pioneer in the use of big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithmic modelling capabilities to understand consumer behaviour.

Footnote: J.D. Power has operated for more than 50 years. Founder Dave Power’s consumer surveys of around 40,000 car buyers a year met with huge resistance from car makers as the then questionable quality and reliability of their products was published.

The industry initially ignored the results but eventually car makers which were topping the surveys could not resist and began prompting their high scores in advertising thus ensuring credibility of the results.

Dave Power went on to create the definitive benchmarks in the auto industry for customer service and for the quality and reliability of motor vehicles with many OEMs even  able to use its data to track quality from individual car plants; especially in the US.

By Neil Dowling and John Mellor

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