Close to twice as many Americans will likely consider a Detroit 3 brand for their next new vehicle as will probably consider an Asian or European vehicle, a new study says.
Eighty-one percent of new-car buyers in Consumer Reports magazine’s recent survey said they were likely to consider an American company for their next vehicle. That compares with 47 percent who would consider Asian companies and 46 percent who would consider European companies.
But actual U.S. light-vehicle sales results differ. Through August, Detroit automakers’ vehicles made up only 43.9 percent of new-vehicle sales. Korean and Japanese automakers had a 48 percent share, and European companies attracted 7.5 percent of sales.
The differing statistics signal that Detroit automakers are missing opportunities because of quality and appeal problems, said Jeff Bartlett, deputy editor of Consumer Reports’ online operations.
“There’s more opportunity than is realized,” Bartlett said. “People are interested in buying, but they have some concerns.”
Among survey respondents who said they weren’t likely to consider an American brand, 57 percent said unappealing vehicles were an issue for Chrysler Group, 67 percent said so for Ford Motor Co. and 49 percent for General Motors Co.
GM’s economic condition was a deterrent for 58 percent of those people, while Ford’s economic problems was an issue for 42 percent and Chrysler’s for 43 percent. Product quality was a turnoff for 47 percent when considering GM, 43 percent when considering Chrysler and 25 percent when considering Ford.
The survey asked respondents whether they were more or less likely to consider each of the Detroit brands than they had been a year earlier. The results showed a 17 percent increase among new-vehicle buyers’ interest in Ford, a 6 percent increase for GM and a 25 percent decrease for Chrysler, Consumer Reports said.
That means GM’s bankruptcy, at least, may not have affected it negatively in a consumer’s eyes, Bartlett said.
Bankruptcy “humanized the problems of these companies. They feel like (buying from a Detroit company) is good for the company, good for the people, but at the same time, they’re purchasing a product, and they’d like that product to deliver,” Bartlett said.
Ford benefited from not taking government assistance, but consumers are still concerned about its vehicles, Bartlett said.
Fuel economy is the top value for those considering new vehicles, the study showed, with 46 percent of respondents say it was in their top-three factors to consider. Quality came second, with 42 percent including it in their top three. Safety (39 percent), price (36 percent), value (24 percent) and performance (14 percent) followed.
Consumer Reports’ research center conducted the survey July 30 to August 3 through telephone interviews with 1,777 adults whose families own vehicles.