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US automotive data deal

J.D. Power has acquired Superior Integrated Solutions/ Darwin Automotive, claimed to be the US market leader of finance and insurance software solutions in the automotive sector. The acquisition expands J.D. Power’s data, analytics and software services to auto dealers. A claimed 7,800 dealers use the Darwin technology.

The Michigan, US-based J.D. Power is a long-established leader in consumer insights, advisory services, analytics, ratings and awards in many sectors and something of a pioneer in the use of AI and algorithmic modelling. On the death in January of the company’s founder Dave Power, aged 89, Canada’s Driving reported:

“The company Power created would turn into a powerhouse, trusted by consumers and valued by automakers, although that sometimes generated some controversy as well. While most of us know it for its auto data, the company – which Power sold to McGraw-Hill in 2005 for US$400m; it’s now owned by a private equity firm – also rates such industries as insurance, retail stores, travel and hospitality, utilities, electronics, and financial services.

“His first client, in 1969, was Toyota. The Japanese automaker established its US headquarters in 1957 but took a while to make a dent in the market. It hired Power to see what customers wanted in their vehicles, and incorporated the rustproofing and brake improvements requested in his surveys. Power continued to ask consumers about their cars. His children stuffed questionnaires into envelopes, and included a quarter in each as an incentive for recipients to answer them. Power gained national exposure in 1973 when one of his surveys involved Mazda’s rotary engines. The engines were problematic, and when the Wall Street Journalbroke the news on its front page, the story was based on Power’s data. It jump-started his reputation as a champion for consumers who wanted reliability when spending their hard-earned cash.

“In the 1970s and 1980s, Power launched studies that are company cornerstones to this day, including the Customer Satisfaction Index and Initial Quality Study. When it got a high score, Subaru became the first automaker to mention its J.D. Power ranking in an ad, which it ran during the 1984 Super Bowl.”