Duramax Diesel 6600 Survey

June 24, 2000


By Jim Bigley

Surveys are great information tools, and are useful in learning more about what's on people's minds. Thanks to your help, we received well over 1000 completed surveys.

This survey was for all GM, Ford and Dodge diesel owners, and new diesel truck buyers. While we hoped to discover what the public perceptions were for the Duramax 6600 & 2001HD trucks, some of the survey questions pertained to your expectations and requirements in a turbo diesel light-truck, no matter the brand.

We reached our goal of 1000+ survey responses within two weeks of placing the survey on TheDieselpage.com. An announcement of the survey was also placed in Pickuptruck.com, Ford-Diesel.com and Turbodieselregister.com. After tossing the duplicates and incomplete surveys, we were left with a total of 990. 530 of this total were from current GM diesel owners, 102 were from Ford diesel owners, 61 were from Dodge Cummins owners, and 297 survey responses were from people who don't currently own a diesel pickup or SUV.

An astonishing 819 out of 990 indicated they were planning to purchase a new Duramax diesel 6600 truck or Suburban within the next 24 months. This included 82 out of 102 Ford owners and 51 out of 61 Dodge Cummins owners who completed the survey.

Based on the average distribution of the recorded choices, the following categories were rated from most important to least important, indicating what might affect (or has affected) their choice in buying a new GM, Ford or Dodge diesel light-truck.
1 = most important, 9 = least important

No one will be surprised that Power/performance is rated #1. The HD diesel market is becoming more focused on power with each passing model year. Given how important the rest of the drivetrain is for a durable diesel truck, I was a little surprised the Transmission/drivetrain category didn't rate #2. Also surprising is that while many people will be trading for a new Duramax turbo diesel truck, they didn't consider the drivetrain attributes a higher priority since the new rock solid Allison is part of the package.

Number 6 in the list of important diesel truck categories is Reputation/Track record. I hear all the time how people buy a diesel truck for the durability, reliability and longevity of a diesel engine. Considering that a track record is the only definitive way to measure Longevity/reliability, I really expected the Reputation/Track record category to appear higher in the list of importance.

Since the Reputation/track record category didn't appear to be a major reason for buying a new diesel truck, I can't help but think that people are not all that concerned about the Longevity/reliability of the Duramax.

It wasn't till I saw the survey data that I fully understood why GM launched a Duramax publicity campaign a full year out from actual production. Putting these trucks in hands of reviewers, and getting a year of advance exposure has generated a reputation and track record of sorts. The GM marketers who pushed for advance publicity have been proven correct in their strategy. Give those boys a cigar!

Coming in #7, #8 and #9 are Cost/Resale value, Brand loyalty and Access to quality dealer service. For sure, some people base their truck purchase on cost, but being rated #7, this is pretty far down on the list.

If you spend any time reading the posts on the Ford and Dodge web site forums, you'll get the mistaken impression that brand loyalty is rampant. Truth is, most people buy the best overall truck regardless of brand. Ford, with its powerful diesel drivetrain has been proof of that. Not being brand loyal is supported as well by the fact that 83% of all Ford and Dodge diesel owners who completed the survey are trading them for a new GM heavy-duty Duramax turbo diesel. If and or when Ford and Dodge move ahead of GM in the important areas, these same people will probably switch back. Competition results in better and more powerful trucks for everyone, no matter what you drive.

In reading the comments section of the surveys, I saw some pretty scathing reports concerning poor dealer service (Ford, Dodge & GM all caught hell). For a few surveyed owners, dealer service was very important, but most rated the Access to quality dealer service category at the bottom as a reason why they bought (or plan to buy) their next diesel truck. Does this mean that most people have had positive experiences at their dealer service departments?

The following table contains all the raw data discussed in the preceding paragraphs concerning what factors were most important in truck buying decisions, whether Ford, Dodge or GM. To read the table, you'll see that 442 people out of 990 said "Power/Performance" was their #1 priority. 218 people rated "Power/Performance" as #2, 107 people rated "Power/Performance" #3, and so on.

Rated Most Important

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9

Power/performance

442

218

107

60

30

30

17

18

38

Transmission/drivetrain

175

237

176

118

96

63

35

31

28

Fuel economy

141

135

173

174

145

64

57

38

31

Longevity/reliability

319

126

152

147

88

52

28

18

31

Ride/handling/appearance

116

67

123

135

200

155

93

42

27

Quality dealer service

87

28

53

53

63

107

158

196

210

Reputation/track record

103

47

52

56

110

129

210

165

83

Brand loyalty

131

33

48

29

73

68

102

132

336

Cost/resale value

109

53

53

62

105

134

126

172

138


The following list was ranked in order from 1 through 7, expressing potential concerns about the new GM Duramax 6600 diesel engine, from most concern to least consern.
1 = most concern, 7 = least concern

This survey category ranking, which asked participants to rank their potential concerns about GM's new diesel engine was actually a trick question. The potential concerns list was included primarily to discover whether the aluminum cylinder heads and the joint venture with Isuzu would prevent people from purchasing a Duramax powered GM truck. Having only seven choices of "potential concerns" meant the new engine concerns would probably rate higher. Based on opinions I've read in the various diesel and truck Internet forums, I was a little surprised that the aluminum cylinder heads didn't rate closer to #1 in potential concerns. A #4 placement in this list means people are at most undecided, but the head issue won't prevent them from buying a Duramax 6600.

The Isuzu connection is rated #6 because the only other potential concern is "No concerns". Everyone has concerns when plunking down big bucks for a new truck. Only 50 people out of 990 were concerned enough about the Isuzu connection to rate it #1. Most aren't giving it a second thought.

The following table contains the raw data discussed in the preceding paragraphs indicating what potential concerns people might have concerning the new Duramax turbo diesel drivetrain. To read the table, you'll see that 284 people out of 990 said "Durability/Reliability" was their #1 concern. 205 people rated "Durability/Reliability" as #2, 143 people rated "Durability/Reliability" #3, and so on.

Potential Concerns

#1

#2

#3

#4

#5

#6

#7

No concerns

86

20

27

20

26

53

520

Diesel option cost

238

155

130

145

114

92

36

Aluminum cyl heads

128

132

189

153

157

79

55

New engine design

228

185

178

147

91

41

30

Dealer service

112

125

132

137

215

128

57

Isuzu connection

50

39

68

94

152

341

144

Durability/reliability

284

205

143

109

81

44

40

Now, all GM has to do is deliver on the promise of class-leading power and durability. Do that GM, and you won't be able to build enough heavy-duty Duramax turbo diesel trucks to satisfy the demand.

To show our appreciation for your help, a free Diesel Page membership (or renewal) was given to five people responding to this survey. The following people won a free one year Diesel Page membership - Jim Mast, Houston, TX - Adam Higgason, Wilmington, OH - Jerry Sarchet, Lubbock, TX - Chas Tamagni, Hammonton, NJ - Joseph DeCrescentis, Brighton, CO.

Thanks for all your help!

More Power!!!


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