Consumer Automobile Purchasing Trends

Toyota and Honda Lead — But Ford Shows Surprising Momentum

In the aftermath of Cash for Clunkers, which auto manufacturers are going to dominate the market going forward and which are destined to be left behind?

Two recent ChangeWave surveys took a close-up look at the auto market — including the cars that consumers are most likely to buy over the next year and the impact that bankruptcy and the federal bailout of U.S. auto manufacturers has had on consumers.

A Dip in Auto Buying Plans

For the second month in a row we’re seeing a pullback in automobile spending. Our October 1-12 survey of 2,731 respondents found just 5% who say they’ll spend More on autos over the next 90 days — down 2-pts from previously. Another 23% say they’ll spend Less.

Nearly a third of all respondents say they’re delaying their purchase of a new car because of Uncertainty about Their Personal Finances (34%) and the Economy (19%).

Nonetheless, a handful of manufacturers are gaining market share at the expense of their weaker competitors.

Winning and Losing Auto Manufacturers

How has this bitter year of turmoil, in which both GM and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy and received government bailout money, affected car buyer attitudes towards the big three U.S. auto manufacturers?

Our September 22-29 ChangeWave survey of 2,025 respondents shows Ford (F) — which avoided bankruptcy and didn’t take government bailout funds — has emerged as the unequivocal winner among the big three U.S. manufacturers.

auto purchasing survey results

A total of 41% of consumers say they’re more likely to buy a Ford in the future, compared to just 8% and 3% for GM and Chrysler respectively.

We also looked at which autos consumers currently own, and compared those findings to the brands that planned buyers say they’re most likely to purchase over the next year.

current auto ownership versus planned purchasing by manufacturer

The results show Toyota (TM; +17) and Honda (HMC; +10) with by far the most momentum going forward — followed by Hyundai (+8) and Ford (+6).

On the downside, both Chrysler (-9) and GM (-6) show negative momentum and, unless this trend is reversed, face a significant loss of market share going forward.

Customer Loyalty Rating

In a further measure of customer loyalty towards the major auto manufacturers, here’s a close-up look at the percentage of car buyers who say they plan on purchasing the same brand that they currently own.

customer loyalty by auto manufacturer

As expected, Toyota (71%) and Honda (69%) have the highest customer loyalty rates in the industry. But Ford currently ranks a surprising third, followed by Hyundai.

The best that can be said for GM (53%) is it finds itself in the middle of the pack, Chrysler (28%), on the other hand, has the lowest customer loyalty rating in the industry.

Bottom Line

In the aftermath of Cash for Clunkers, this is our second consumer survey in a row showing a downtick in auto spending. Nonetheless, a handful of manufacturers remain excellently positioned to make big gains as the market begins to recover.

Toyota reigns supreme among likely future buyers, both in the traditional and hybrid auto markets. The survey shows they are set to receive the largest increase in market share and they command the highest customer loyalty rates in the industry.

Both Honda and Hyundai also show strength in terms of future buying and customer loyalty.

But the biggest surprise of the survey is Ford’s across the board performance:

  • Ford has emerged from one of the most difficult years in industry history as the unequivocal winner among the big three U.S. manufacturers — with clear signs of market share momentum going forward.
  • It ranks third in customer loyalty among all of the major car manufacturers, beaten only by Toyota and Honda in this all-important measure.
  • It also appears well-positioned in the hybrid marketplace.

Andy Golub and Mike Nocerino co-wrote this article.

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media,

©2022 InvestorPlace Media, LLC