Drivers Show Brand Loyalty

December 16, 2010, 9:41 AM HST · Updated December 16, 9:41 AM
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Two new studies conducted by J.D. Power and Associates and Kelly Blue Book have found where US shoppers are putting their loyalty—overseas!

J.D. Power and Associates found that only 69% of American car owners will buy another car from the big three when their car is due for replacement.  To contrast, the same study found that 90% of foreign car owners would buy an import.

The battle for US domination is heating up.  Ford Motor Company recently cut an advertisement touting its Fusion over a Toyota Camry in which an eager car shopper trades her Toyota Camry in for the Ford.  While this image may be appearing all over American television sets, it has yet to become commonplace at the dealership.

In fact, only 14% of American car buyers traded in an import for their new American car in 2010.  Believe it or not, that statistic is an improvement over 2008, when only 10% of US automotive shoppers traded an import for a domestic car.

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Who’s Grabbing US Marketshare?

A study from Kelly Blue Book finds that despite safety problems and a swath of highly publicized recalls, American car buying loyalty is in the hands of Toyota, which has become America’s “go-to” brand.

A full 25 percent of car buyers would first shop for a Toyota, followed closely by Ford at 24 percent.  Honda rounds out the top three at a competitive 23 percent share of new car buyers.

Toyota briefly slipped off the number one spot in 2009 when a series of accidents dominated the airwaves.  During that dip, Ford reigned supreme until the latest third-quarter 2010 survey which found Toyota had only slightly edged Ford for US mindshare.  Before Toyota’s plunge, the company had held safely onto the number one spot for more than two years.

Recently, Toyota and Honda have made large investments in the United States, opening new factories, expanding operations, and creating jobs.  This, analysts believe, may be helping mesh their brands with US automakers, even if their corporate headquarters are an ocean away.

Toyota currently operates five assembly operations in Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana, Texas and West Virginia with another plant in Mississippi scheduled to open in 2011.  Honda operates two plants in Ohio, and one each in Indiana and Alabama.

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