US automakers fall further behind foreign brands

Chevrolet Corvette

A new survey of customer satisfaction in the United States shows the gap between the 'Big Three' automakers and imported car brands has stretched to its widest point in five years.

The 2013 American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) finds GM, Ford and Chrysler have an average score of 82 (on a scale between 0 and 100) which is below the industry average of 83. Asian brands have an average score of just over 84, slightly behind European brands which lead the ACSI with an average just under 85.

Overall, satisfaction with 20 different auto brands fell 1.2%. The ACSI does not show a survey score for the Tesla brand.

(Read more: Age of cars in America climbs to all-time high )

ACSI researchers believe customer satisfaction is slipping in part because vehicle reliability may be suffering as automakers ramp up production.

As the 'Big Three' have increased their production to keep up with greater sales demand, they've seen customer satisfaction slip.

David VanAmburg, Director of the ACSI, said domestic automakers may be losing focus as they add more shifts and run their plants at capacity. 'U.S. automakers may be stretched too thin, ramping-up production to meet rising demand,' says David VanAmburg. 'Quality may be giving way to quantity.'

( Read more: The cheapest-and most expensive-cars to drive )

It's a troubling slide for the American auto brands. Just five years ago, the Big 3 and the Asian auto brands were in a virtual tie when it came to customer satisfaction.

Mercedes surges while Dodge and Chevy falter

Mercedes topped the list of top auto brands in the latest ACSI with a score of 88. It jumped past Lexus, which lead the survey last year.

Dodge and Chevrolet tied for last place in the ACSI as the only brands with scores of 79. Chevy's rating dropped 6 percent.

(Read more: Consumer reports gives a Chevy its highest rating )

The American Consumer Satisfaction Index was calculated after more than 4,000 Americans were surveyed in early April.

-By CNBC's Phil LeBeau . Follow him on Twitter @LeBeauCarNews .

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