A recent study among the leading brands of automobiles found that the majority of American consumers see very little difference between most makes and models. All of the major automotive players engineer for efficiency, power and safety, effectively leveling the playing field for most consumers.
Toyota, Ford, Honda and Chevy still top brands
The Consumer Reports survey, released Jan. 24, asked 2,045 random consumers to rank their favorite brands from 2011 in seven different categories: safety, quality, value, performance, environmental friendliness, design and technology. Toyota, Ford, Honda and Chevrolet — all traditional leaders in the annual survey — held onto their top positions. But all of the automakers had decreased totals and were separated by narrower margins than in the 2010 survey.
Young consumers less brand-loyal
The Consumer Reports Car-Brand Perception study found that young consumers are less brand-loyal than they were in previous generations. In the light of the current economy, according to Consumer Reports’ Jeff Bartlett, pragmatic concerns are taking precedence:
“Dramatic events in the automotive industry seem to be affecting how consumers view auto brands. Erratic gasoline prices and a struggling economy have pushed consumers to prize low operating costs and good reliability.”
Diminished scores for all
Safety was also a huge concern in consumer rankings. Toyota, still reeling from 8 million vehicles being recalled in 2009 and 2010, dropped 17 points in the survey from last year.
Ford, Honda and BMW also took spankings. All three makes dipped by 20 points from the 2010 survey. Chevrolet dropped by 10 points.
The data used in the survey was collected from telephone interviews conducted between Dec. 1 and Dec. 5, 2011. The interviewers polled 2,045 consumers in households with at least one car.
Report welcomed by small car makers
According to Rush Lane, these figures indicate that consumers are unimpressed by the one-upsmanship among large automakers, as they scramble to be the first to include new technology and accessories. The automotive website also noted that the report should be welcome news for smaller automakers like Hyundai and Kia.