Analysts at J.D. Power and Associates tried not to use the phrase "winning team" to describe the performance of several import brands, during the marketing firm's International Automotive Roundtable here.
But the clear impression emerged that a stubborn gap exists between the import franchises and many of the domestics.
According to Power data, several of the mass-market import brands are performing at top levels, while their U.S.-based counterparts are turning in unpredictable results on issues ranging from product quality to marketing efficiency.
J.D Power President Steve Goodall talked to Staff Reporter Lindsay Chappell.
What's your outlook for Ford and General Motors? Is there a cause for hope?
The companies have the ability to bounce back, but it won't be rapid. There's no real product in the pipelines right now to change the situation. The question is whether they will turn things around by the end of the decade. You can point to some of their brands that are doing well, but you know, some of those brands are really only a few products.
What are the winning franchises right now?
Toyota, Lexus, Nissan, Honda, Hyundai. You see their performance doing well on almost every measure, especially Toyota and Lexus. Sales are up, dealer profitability is good, customer satisfaction is high, incentive spending is low.
But they must be vulnerable somewhere.
Yes, for some of them it's the increased competition. As they push into new segments, things are going to get harder. Toyota, Nissan, even Honda, are making big investments in capacity for full-sized trucks.
The total demand for that segment is going to be down, and Ford and GM are going to put up a big fight for it.
GM is taking a price leadership position on pickups, and customers are going to be asking themselves, "Am I really willing to pay $5,000 more for a Tundra or a Titan, just for the sake of having an import brand?"
Meanwhile, Honda's Ridgeline is not setting the world on fire.
They'll make their 12-month plan, but it won't be gangbusters. It's really a different customer than a Ford F-150 buyer.
But still, it's a good question to ask - why doesn't a global engine company have a V-8?
You may e-mail Lindsay Chappell at [email protected]