Domestic Perception Gaining

2008fordtaurus

Perceptions take a long time to change.

A nationwide survey of consumers found that 15% say once was enough — they'll never buy a General Motors, Ford or Chrysler nameplate again. That's four times the number of folks who say they'll never buy a Toyota, Honda or Nissan again.

But those numbers actually are encouraging for domestic automakers, considering the fact that three years ago the no-more-domestic number was 25% of consumers. Those who say they'll never buy a Toyota, Honda or Nissan again has risen from 2.7% three years ago to 3.5% today.   

"The ‘never buy’ figure among those who own domestics has gone down because the cars have gotten better, owners have had fewer problems, and since they haven't been turned off they are more likely to buy one again," said Art Spinella, general manager of CNW Marketing Research, which conducted the survey.

Why the rise in unhappiness among Toyota, Honda and Nissan owners, even though it’s still a very small percentage?

"The more who own and the longer they own, the more likely that some will be unhappy,” Spinella said, “but it's also that they've grown to expect too much from those brands."

Still, domestics don't have cause for euphoria just yet.

"It took lots of years of building lousy cars to get people to the point they didn't want to buy another again, and it will take years to convince those people to buy again,” Spinella said. “It's not easy to get people back once burned."

A 500-Pound Name

Speaking of how difficult it is to get people to change, CNW recently found that while Ford spent millions of dollars renaming its Five Hundred sedan the Taurus — because loyalists loved the Taurus name — its dealers are having a hard time making the change.

Less than 20% call the 2008 model “Taurus,” while the rest call it “Five Hundred” or interchange “Five Hundred” and “Taurus” when talking to the same customer.

"Ford has to call its dealers and say, 'Let's talk,‘" Spinella said. "Someone has to meet with the salesmen and say it's called Taurus now because people loved that name. You just can't have someone in the ivory tower say, 'Call it Taurus.' You have to tell all the salespeople why."

By Jim Mateja | September 18, 2007 | Comments (43)
Tags: Car Buying

Comments 

LM

I think they (cars.com) like fanning the flame war of domestic vs. import.

Let the fire throwing begin!

I think we'll all agree that imports aren't all that great and neither are domestics. Considering the number of parts in a car, can we really expect them to be flawless?

We're not fanning anything really. If anything I thought the story was a good idea when Jim pitched it because of all the comments we get regarding the subject.

I also think the "perception" concept is a huge factor in today's automotive landscape no matter if it's right or wrong. As a car guy I just want to drive the best car. I don't care what the emblem is on the hood.

LM

Many car guys won't agree: "As a car guy I just want to drive the best car. I don't care what the emblem is on the hood."

Or perhaps they aren't really car guys but Made in (insert country/continent here) guys?

Anon

Nothing is going to be flawless. Both sides of this war have their problems. There are lousy American cars and there are lousy Import cars. thats just how it is.

When my car was in an accident I had to get a rental. The first rental we had was a Pontiac Grand Prix (the ms. picked it) It had some 7,000 miles on it and stalled. It sounded like something was literatly living in the engine too. So I went and switched up for what ever they had avaiable, It is a Toyota Camry. I now have the rental camry and it is also falling apart. The shifter unscrewed itself from hitting all the hard bumps in the road, the engine was loud but we werent moving anywhere. On top of all that everytime we take it to a store or mall we can't find the car because there are so many that look exactly the same. The Camry had 2000 miles on it when we had gotten it. Lets just say the rental place has a name like a certain ship on star terk.

Both cars sucked but that is most likely because they are rental vehicles and people don't bother to take care of them. It is wrong for people to think that the entire line up of that car is bad because of the one rental or company car that they have driven. I would suggest test driving a new one just to feel the difference.

Oh and I asked for a Dodge Avenger from the rental place, they have yet to see one.

It is nice to see for once an article that isn't bashing domestics straight out. And that what I have been saying all along has some truth in it.

KJ

When walking around my town I pity those that bought domestic. Paint chipping off GM cars, rental looking Ford cars everywhere, Dodge and Chrysler cars with lose metal sounds coming from the rear axle..........then I see Japanese cars that are 10+ years old and they look and run like new. It doesn't take rocket sciencetist to realize that new cars are very expensive, so why would one gamble on buying domestic when a Honda or Toyota is going to last a long time, and still hold onto it's retail value better.

Geek

Must be all the Consumer Reports readers concerned about reliability ratings...

Is there any more of a break down by make? Just a guess...but I would guess Chevy and Ford have seen improvements because of newer models having much better reliability than in the past (Fusion, Impala, etc...).

This car guy doesn't care who makes the car. He just wants the most safe, reliable, and fuel efficient vehicle.

Thanks for the blog...I enjoy it.

Anon

To KJ

Everytime Honda or toyota or Nissan make a new verision of their car the older one looks completly outdated. The one before that one looks even older. Not to mention the fact that most people buy old imports because they are cheaper then old american cars.Also someone with a 10 year old civic is most likly to be one of the owners who thinks that it is a race car. XD! Import cars update themselves so fast that it makes no sence to buy one. Before you even pay it off your car is outdated and by time you want to trade it in it is worth less because of the newer looking being out there.

See that is an easy way for an auto maker to make customers keep coming back. Just remake their cars every 3 years and people who want to stay up with the times just end up leasing (which is not tat great of an option).

At least with the majority of america cars your able to find your in a parking lot. I see so many damn camrys that even their owners complain they don't feel excited to drive something everything else does.

While it's interesting watching so many people put up snarky comments about another's opionion, i'm curious what the perception is of the european group? Was there no mention Dave?

“We're not fanning anything really... “

Are you smoking drugs Dave?

Since it's not fanning a flame war, I'll point out the results of J.D. Power & Associates' recent three-year reliability study.

Number of problems per 100 vehicles:
American makes: 212
Japanese makes: 230
European makes: 257
Korean makes: 258
All imports: 248

These numbers were calculated defining a makes geographic identity by the country where the company is headquartered.

Of course these number are meaningless

KJ

To Anon:

I do agree that auto manf. change car styles to entice buyers to purchase a newer car. I don't see how one can find their domestic car in a parking lot if it's a Cavlier, Taurus, Stratus, Grand Am, or F-150. There are many of these privately own, and many in the rental fleet. My point with foreign cars is most run great after 10+ years of ownership. And when a car runs great it gives the owner a feeling of a great looking car. Can't say that about a GM car with paint peeling and rust showing through. Or a Ford with transmission problems. Or a Dodge with a bad rear axle.

Jenki

Anon, every automaker outdates their cars when they release new versions, that is the point of the new version.

Also, people don't buy used imports because they are cheaper than used domestics. They are usually more expensive, because of higher resale values. People buy imports because of reliability and quality.

As for your older model car being devalued by newer models, once again, this is true for all makes.

Oh, and do you think it's possible that someone out there might drive a 10 year old Civic because it is inexpensive to own? Just a thought....

Anon

Hold the phone here.

To KJ:


You act like there are no imports out there with the same problem. Conduct your own servey and see how many broken down imports to domestics there are on the side of the highway.

To Jenki:

If you had read KJ and I were talking about used cars. Compare the value of a 1996 Impala to a 1996 accord. And you will see what I mean.
and again if you could read I had stated:

"Also someone with a 10 year old civic is MOST LIKLEY to be one of the owners who thinks that it is a race car."

The words most likely means that NOT ALL people buy old civics to put stupid spoilers on them and fatpipe exhausts.

LT,
That's why this is about perception not reality. There are less Japanese makes than Domestics though and when you add the problematic Japanese they bring down the otherwise high ranking members far more easily than the domestics.

You have to look at the brands in my mind. For every Chrysler there is a Nissan on the problematic side. Or a VW. And for every Toyota there is a Buick on the positive end.

Doug G

Dave T,
This brings to mind one of my favorite articles you have posted on your blog in recent months. I don't have a link to the exact article, but it was a survey doing initial impression ratings on re-badged Chevys and Toyotas showing that a Chevy with a Toyota badge scored 1-2 points higher than the same Chevy with a Chevy badge. Hilarious, thanks for sharing that one.

Also, I commend your resilience in the face of all the accusatory comments. You are nearly 100% unbiased in your article postings, and even if you were heavily biased, I'd have to point out that this is a blog and is not expected to be wholly neutral.

Jenki

Anon - Actually, I can read perfectly fine. Dont confuse my not agreeing with you as an inability to read.

Comparing a 96 Accord to an Impala is apples to oranges. Try comparing the 96 Accord to a 96 Lumina (which was Chevy's mid size car for the time), and you will see that the Accord is worth almost 2x with comparable features.

When I said that I didn't think that people who bought a 10 year old Civic MOST LIKELY bought it to race, thats what I meant. I didn't mis-read anything, I just disagree with you. There probably is no car more economical than a used Civic. Therefore, MOST people buy them for that reason. SOME people buy them because they think they are fast, but not MOST.

Thanks Doug G, and to be clear to all the conspiracy theorists...we've never met right?!

alex

this is the facts....
consumer reports best in category...
honda fit
honda civic
honda accord
madza miata
surbru WRX
toyota rav 4
toyota prius
toyota sienna/honda odyssey
honda ridgeline/ toyota tacoma
acura tl
infiniti series
what do these all have in common?
they are all imports/japanese. The facts are the facts... Imports are better, higher ranked, have better re-sale value. End of story

Please remember how Consumer Reports gets its findings. Perhaps those are tinged by perception as well? Tough to tell. Although I wouldn't really argue against any of those vehicles.

J

I've owned 3 vehicles in the past 5 years, plus one that I am driving now.
2 are Ford products, 2 are Honda.
Had the Ford first, then another Ford. Both had a same/similar problem before I told myself no more Ford for me ever. Both can stall at the red light if I don't step on the gas on neutral.
Switched to the Honda, never had a problem again.

If it happened the other way around, I believe I will be doing the same to Honda by saying NO MORE!
Why did this happen? I think it is coincidence. Someone has a Ford can have 6 digit odometer starting with a 2 or 3. Both of mine were under 80,000 when that stalling happened.

Infosaur

KJ I could fill a myspace page of 10 year old Mazdas with peeling paint, Mitsubishi's that are rusted out, Nissans that look like demolition derby cars.

a 10 year old car is gonna be run pretty hard.

BTW I avoided Hondas/Acuras on my list because most of the 10 year old models look like someone's abandoned "bodywork by Home Depot" project.

Seriously kids, if you haven't painted it yet why drive it around with 200lbs of bondo and primer on it?

XZ

latley, i have seen CR to be biased towards japanese cars. but on the other side, they themsleves have reported dropping reliability in japanese autos. Honda/Acura has 3 models that have only average reliability, down from much better than average, and one that was well below average. Toyota's reliability is also tanking, because alot of their models are down from last year. for example, the camry 4 cyl. only has avg. reliability, according to their survey. it seems etremely fishy that just because its a toyota or a honda that they can recommend it. CR's test scores are also inconsistent. every year they fluctuate.

just because its a toyota doesnt mean that it is totally reliable no matter what. first, toyota has had 10 recalls in the past year. i have no idea why CR doesnt include recalls in their reliabiliy, but they should. on the other hand, VW/Audi has onyl had one or two. my mom's 2007 Rav4 has only given her problems. she's had to take it in 5 times in the last six months (it was in the shop for 2 weeks during one session) to replace a bunch of assorted electrical compnents in the cabin etc.

hondas and toyotas also seem to sacrifice everything for fuel economy and price. alot of toyotas only use 4 speed automatics. CR says it themselves. toyotas are not very agile at all, which can come in handy if something flys into the road ahead of you (like a deer, ball, etc.). the interior quality of recent toyota models has been very dissapointing; the Rav4 is a hard-plastic-mobile, and a 25K one at that. i would expect that from a "budget" car like the yaris, but not from something that costs quite alot. the interior quliaty of hondas isnt much better either. both toyotas and hondas are very loud; again, to get better gas milage, the automakers decide to skimp out on isolating the cabin to lighten up the vehicles. the seats in the last honda i sat in, the CR-V were as hard as a rock. they were just plin uncomfortable. plus, with the dropping reliability ratings from CR, its a good reason to stay away from them.

on the other hand, European autos, like BMW and VW/Audi, are acctually getting better at reliability. even the most "unreliable" Touareg acctually had some pretty substantial imrpovments from its first year. The passat 3.6 has above average reliability, and the jetta 2.0t and GLI both have average, up from worse than average. all of the audi's have inmproved, and they probably will still head in that direction. when you really anylyze the grphs that they provide, the circles are acctually very inaccurate. it makes no sense to me that car A VW is given a below average reliability rating for having "average" reliability in two trouble spots, while car B has the same ratings in the same trouble spots, but is rated as well above average, and is from Toyota.

American autos are also turning around in quality and reliability. Buick is now the most reliable brand out there, over lexus. the interiors of buicks have made a 180º turnaround. Chevy is also making a good effort to make its vehicles nicer. the "new" Aveo sedan has a pretty nice interior for a "budget" car, with a bit of wood trim. plus, for the same price as the yaris, you can get an Aveo with a sunroof. even though some people dont like sunroofs, others that like them, and would not normally be able to afford the cars that they can be equipped in, now can have one for a pretty decent price. GMC's qulity is also making great improvments, even though ti was muhc better than Chevrolet.

CR has also gotten very picky with some cars, like the GTI for example. they say the only downside of it is a long clutch pedal. thats just obnoxious to me. if the car has no downsides, dont be extremely picky to find one just to find one. you can always get the DSG model anyway, in which the car would have no downsides.

It seems like CR does not take into account the interior quliaty, agility, and saftey of the car when they rate them. VW/Audis are much more agile than toyotas and hondas. plus, they are much safer. the A6 was named the safest car this year, along with the new Taurus and Sable.

in my opinion, its better to go by your experiences. my uncle has a 1990 vw jetta with over 300,000 miles on it. there have been very minor problems only very recently (like some of the paint on the inside is chipping, one of the knobs stopped working), and the car is over 17 years old. our GMC envoy XL is a great car. the seat are comfortable and it doesnt have any of the hard plastic that the japanese cars have. my father had a 1999 VW passat with 100,000 miles on it, and only got rid of it because it was totalled in an accident. he got a 2006 passat 2.0T to replace it in 2005, and says its the best car he's owned so far.

it may just be my opinion, but if car A from VW is 22K, and car B from toyota is 20K (starting price), ill still go with the VW. you have to look and see what's standard on each car before you say, "oh, this ones less, so ill go with this one" because VWs often have many more saftey features standard on them. plus, that VW has a six speed automatic (all VWs have available six spd. autos) and a much nicer interior for the price, and probalby gets just as good real world gas milage. the saturn aura is also another good example. it gets comparable gas milage, has a pretty nice interior, and it just as safe as the toyotas.

toyotas and hondas can be very nice cars, but the recent trend towards sacrificing everything for gas milage has been a bit unsettling. other japanese brands like nissan and mazda though, are very nice cars. the sentra and versa are probalby some of the best compacts and subcompacts out there. the Mazda 3 just recieved CR's highest road test for "sporty" cars.

Troy in Ft Walton Beach

I base my vehicle purchase on what's parked at the auto parts stores. That sends a clear message to me and my wallet.

I'd rather pay a little more upfront for a more reliable vehicle that won't nickel and dime me over it's lifespan.

This philosophy has served me well over the last 21 years.

Jenki

XZ - Experiences are the most important thing in determining what to buy, in my mind. I have had exactly the opposite experiences as you. I have never personally owned a VW/Audi, but not one person who I know that has, has been happy with it. I have a friend that had a 2001 A4 that at 18k miles had been in the shop over 20 times for major repairs.

Since I started buying Toyota I have NEVER had a repair. Not one. For that reason, I will continue to buy them.

It is interesting the different experiences that people have with the same makes.

XZ

thats just the thing. everyone i know that has had VW/Audis cant say enough good things about them.

those that have had toyotas say that they are great if you dont want to spend much on gas, but other than that they usually dont have many good things to say.

XZ

also, my uncle recently purchased a new tahoe, and it is probably one of the nicer cars i have been in. its got a navigation system, sunroof, leather, heated seats, four sonze climate control, pretty much all of the bells and whistles. he traded in his 1999 tahoe with over 250,000 miles in for it.

LM

Everyone I know with a VW/Audi has had problems. And not cheap problems, but electrical problems. Of course then there are also the integrity problems, such as the glove box door falling off. On a new car.

I've never seen something like this happen on a new Toyota or even on a domestic.

rangerxlt

"Can't say that about a GM car with paint peeling and rust showing through."
KJ,

Japanese vehicles have the worst paint quality when it comes to 80's/90's cars and European vehicles have the best paint quality. My dad's 91 Nissan Maxima was hit at a low speed on the rear bumper and paint chipped off the front bumper for some odd reason.

Jenki

rangerxlt - have you seen any 80s or 90s Chryslers lately? Looking at a Dodge Caravan, or Neon now, you'd think that bare metal was a factory option for color....

JM

i have yet to see a japanese car of any make that is over 10 years old that is still going around. i see old ford escorts, explorers, jeep cherokees, vw jettas, vw beetles, chevy suburbans, GMC suburbans, occasionally on the highway.

Troy in Ft Walton Beach

JM,

I have an 89' Honda CR-X all original that's running strong with 270,000 miles. 18 years and counting not too bad eh? My 92 Ranger however, with 76,000 miles, has continuously nickel and dimed me the past few years. Sold my 15 year old Camry 3 years ago, and my dad just traded in his 88 Silverado. Sister sold her 91 Cavalier (was on it's third transmission). In the south, you see plenty of 10+ year old vehicles running aorund. I think climate, maintenance and general upkeep have more to do with a vehicles longevity than it's manufacturer.

LM

JM you're an idiot. I live in Boston - a town that eats cars alive with salt - and I still see plenty of late 80s/early 90s Civics, Corollas, Accords and Camrys around. Luminas? Tauri? Escorts? HELL NO. They're LONG buried.

LM

Now that Jim posted the negative Prius story, I notice how this is pro-Big Three. I'm on a Jim Mateja watch from now on.

Don

Pretty good points all around. The number and brand of cars that you see are all based on where you live. I live in the midwest and see plenty of Domestic vehicles riding around. My statement to the coasts that everyone here buys domestic vehicles and we are able to get to work each day... they must be reliable enough. (especially since where i live has no mass transit).

I love people who talk about how their toyota is perfect. if there is an average of 2 problems on every vehicle after 3 years, i guess that just means there is another toyota that has 2 problems to balance out this guy's zero problems (that's math).

clear up some stupid misconceptions:
1. Impala and fusion are made in mexico. sick of hearing about this. 90% of toyota's cars are made in japan. please don't confuse the 10% of total cars made with what company is american. Lets also mention a plant employs around 2500 people. That is nothing compared to the 100,000 people that work in engineering, accounting, finance, management etc. The people who provide a car to be built. Those people are all in The United States for GM and Ford.

2. consumer reports has different ratings each year because *GASP* the cars are different each year. Not to mention you're using a small sample size to judge 200,000 cars (which isn't a good idea). People don't want to be bothered with it, but all car companies make very good cars and not so good cars. You couldn't pay me to drive a highlander, but you also couldn't make me want to buy a Venture minivan.


to quote a wise man:

"If you want to buy a japanese car,

LM

Don: First learn grammar. If you're so pro-American and live in the midwest, you should have a decent grasp on American-english.

Just to take issue with point 1:
"Impala and fusion are made in mexico. sick of hearing about this. 90% of toyota's cars are made in japan. please don't confuse the 10% of total cars made with what company is american. Lets also mention a plant employs around 2500 people. That is nothing compared to the 100,000 people that work in engineering, accounting, finance, management etc. The people who provide a car to be built. Those people are all in The United States for GM and Ford."

40-50% of Toyota's American-sold cars are made in the U.S.

and.

There are plenty of GM/Ford engineering, accounting, finance and management staff that work for overseas divisions making Opels, Holdens et. al. Just as there are thousands of Toyota, Honda, Nissan etc. staff here in the U.S. designing and accounting for North American operations.

These are all global companies with employees worldwide spreading their corporate profits everywhere, not just in their home countries.

LM,
Remember Jim Mateja is one of the most prominent newspaper automotive writers in the country. He's no hysteria monger. From his bio:

"Mateja started at the Chicago Tribune on the business copy desk in 1967 and became the paper’s automotive writer in 1970. His first review was of a Ford Pinto, which ran in the Tribune in 1971."

LM

So he longs for the days of Big Three-glory seeing the Prius as a threat to those once-dominant companies?

Join the 'aughts' man.

Art

Drive what you like. That's your right as an American. Companies have to compete globally...and GM/Ford/Chrysler have found that out the hard way. However, what really bothers me is the attitude that I see from so many folks here...Why is it that many people (especially, it seems to me, those on the coasts) feel they have to go out of their way to attack North American designed/engineered/manufactured cars? Why?
Can't you be happy to make decisions based on your own experiences and buy whatever you like without bashing others? I have had nothing but good luck with US vehicles. My 1991 GMC (built in Ft. Wayne Indiana, designed in Warren Michigan, tested in Milford Michigan, and Phoenix Arizona) has 240,000 miles on it and runs great. But I am not going to go around bashing other manufacturers products (even though my experience says that some are less reliable than my GMC). I will just be sure to consider another GMC with I purchase my next new vehicle (figure I have another 5 good years in my truck). Does it give you some sort of sick pleasure to bash your countrymen? Do you see GM/Ford/Cry as some big monolith without a soul...do you know those are real people you are bashing...who DO take it personally when you degrade all they have worked on.

Here is an idea...how about all of you who spend your time bashing the domestics, list your professions, including the actual name of the companies where you work and what you do. That way we can all jump all over how poor a job you do, and how we would all be better off if we could just resource your jobs to India or China???

Why don't you grow up a little...this is like high school football...where you bash the other team just because you happen to go to another school...let'e remember that there are real people behind ALL these companies. Did you notice that the Detroit area is expected to have houseing price reductions of 21% by 2009? That's higher than anywhere except the housing bubbles of South CA and Florida...That's because REAL PEOPLE are being impacted by attitudes like those posted here. These are YOUR COURNTRYMEN!!! If you don't like their products...fine...buy Japanese...but at least don't go around bashing them to everybody you know. And when they make big improvements...give them the kudos they deserve...I am just asking for a little "treat you neighbor as yourself" mentality here...

LM

No one is bashing the American "worker". They do a good job. It's their bosses who have led them into turmoil.

Americans can make great products but if corporate policies aren't in line with their welfare then the product will suffer.

And if the decision-makers, be they American or Canadian or German or whatever say to ignore fuel efficiency and the company fails to make products that are efficient (and thus cannot compete) and they lose market share, well then yes it IS their fault and they deserve that recognition. It's no fault but their own.

As far as decline - America's industry has been in decline for decades. Think of your free-trading politicians who fail to protect the typical American worker.

In order to be competitive, there should be equal environmental and labor standards applied to all imports (ie. a tariff on imports from countries that have low labor and environmental standards) to help offset those destructive activities and level the playing field. Let's see Republicans protect the American family with that.

Jess

cheaper american dollar = cheaper american goods for foriegn countries = increase in buying of american goods = increase in american jobs that make stuff(manufacturing) = increase of money average american has = more jobs being created in the service industry = more goods/services being produced = less cost for goods/services = greater standard of living for average american = america is superior

also, cheaper american dollar = more expensive foriegn goods for americans = less imports = more domestic spending = increase in american jobs that make stuff(manufacturing) = increase of money average american has = more jobs being created in the service industry = more goods/services being produced = less cost for goods/services = greater standard of living for average american = america is superior

Ken L.

Jess,

Great! Let's de-value the American dollar to that below of the Peso and see what happens. Try thinking about this one... Cheaper American dollar = stronger Euro and other foreign currencies = foreigners buying up all of American Landmarks and property and before you know it, you’re working for a foreign company paying you minimum wage because you’re cheap labor = sad American :( On a global stage, I’d rather have a strong American dollar to show the world that America is strong.

Sanchez

Look at the yen, artifially low, the same for the Chinese yuan, if not, almost nobody could afford to buy Japanese cars or Dollar store or Wal Mart items.

Sanchez

I wanted to say Japanese build cars. But it has been the same for the last 2 decades, at least. It would be interesting if American companies would produce cars here for European Market, like VW does with tne New Beetle from Mexico.

rangerxlt

"I live in Boston - a town that eats cars alive with salt - and I still see plenty of late 80s/early 90s Civics, Corollas, Accords and Camrys around. Luminas? Tauri? Escorts? HELL NO. They're LONG buried."
LM,

Like Don said earlier the kinds of vehicles you see depend on where you live.

Where I live (the Midwest) I see many plenty of Ford (usually Escorts, Tempos, Aspires, Festivas, F-150s, Foci, and Explorers) and GM (usually Blazers, Cavaliers, and Cutlass Supremes) cars and not to many imports.

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