Consumers shunned some Chrysler Group and General Motors Co. brands during the height of publicity surrounding their U.S.-steered bankruptcies this year, a new study says.
Chrysler's Dodge and Chrysler brands and GM's Hummer, Saturn and Pontiac were the top five U.S. brands avoided by consumers, according to J.D. Power and Associates' 2009 Avoider Study released Tuesday.
About 18 percent of buyers surveyed cited worries about the future of the brand as a reason for not considering a particular model. That ranked behind styling, price and perceived reliability, which for the second straight year were the top three reasons for rejection.
This was the first time in the study's seven years that J.D. Power gave respondents the option of noting worries about a brand's future.
The survey tallied responses from 45,000 owners who registered a vehicle in May and June. Chrysler filed for bankruptcy protection on April 30 and exited within six weeks; GM filed on June 1 and emerged July 10. The owners were surveyed in August through October.
GM said in late April that it planned to shut down Pontiac; in early June, GM identified buyers for Hummer and Saturn. (The Saturn deal has since fallen through and GM is closing the brand.)
Chrysler brand sales have dropped 50 percent this year through November, and Dodge is down 36 percent. Both brands have roles under Italy's Fiat S.p.A., which now controls the U.S. automaker.
Demand for Hummer has plunged 66 percent this year, and Saturn has fallen 61 percent. Pontiac sales have dropped 32 percent.
By contrast, Ford Motor Co. did not take government assistance, and its Ford, Mercury and Lincoln brands had much lower avoidance because of brand future scores, Kerri Wise, Power's director of automotive research, said in a statement. Ford also improved on quality and reliability, she said.
"While Chrysler and GM struggled to gain the confidence of some consumers, Ford actually made strides," she said.
Import brands also took some "Buy American" lumps in the Avoider Study, Wise said.
Import brands have increased their U.S. market share by more than 3 percentage points so far this year. But among those buying domestic-brand vehicles, almost six in 10 cited "didn't want a foreign/import vehicle," up from 46 percent a year ago.