Image problems plague German manufacturers, research firm finds

Bonn, Germany. In the run-up to the Frankfurt Motor Show, German automakers are battling massive image problems.

That's the conclusion of a study from Media Tenor, a research firm in Bonn, which evaluated stories on all automakers in the news and business reporting of 36 leading German print media and broadcasters. There were 20,704 stories between Jan. 1 and Aug. 15.

Germany's carmakers were in the middle of the pack, according to the research firm. Even the paragons of the German auto industry, BMW and Porsche, ranked only in the middle of the pack, said Matthias Vollbracht, the director of economic research at Media Tenor.

According to the study, Volkswagen landed in the top spot for the amount of media coverage, with 5,098 stories, compared to 4,586 stories for DaimlerChrysler. But VW had 21.6 percent more negative references than positive ones, Vollbracht said.

The only manufacturers trailing VW were Mitsubishi, Daewoo and MG Rover.

"The corruption scandal hasn't hurt the standing of the man in the VW driver's seat, Bernd Pischetsrieder," Vollbracht said.

Companies blamed for inaction on filters

The media gave the highest marks to the Renault-Nissan alliance, and PSA Peugeot Citroen also acquitted itself well.

"In the reporting by Der Spiegel, Focus, FAZ and Tageschau/>, the foreign manufacturers were noted for virtues that once seemed reserved for German manufacturers: safety, reliability and innovation," Vollbracht said.

In contrast, the German firms were criticized for being caught flat-footed on the trend toward hybrids and diesel particle filters.

Vollbracht did detect a positive trend in reports about the domestic industry's products. He attributes this development to a good showing by new models in quality studies.

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