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Bloomberg survey says Americans turning away from Toyota, liking Ford


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Bloomberg survey says Americans turning away from Toyota, liking Ford

For the past generation or so Toyota has been synonymous with two things: Selling more passenger cars than anybody else (Camry, Corolla) and quality. Sure, there have been a few other themes associated with ToMoCo (green hybrids, not ready for prime-time full-size trucks), but for the most part, ubiquitousness and reliability have been the big selling points. Then came a particularly nasty case of sudden acceleration.

Bloomberg reports that four out of 10 Americans say they would "definitely not buy a Toyota." Compounding matters is another part of the Bloomberg survey that reveals a significant 36% of Americans have a negative view of Toyota. Ouch. Potentially worse is that less than half (49%) of those surveyed have a favorable view of Toyota.

Contrast those results to what Bloomberg learned about Ford. An overwhelming 77% of consumers have a favorable opinion of the house that Henry built. That's seven percent more favorable than second-place Honda. The survey found that many people are so amped up on the Blue Oval because unlike fellow American companies General Motors and Chrysler, Ford avoided taking Federal bailout money. That's probably part of the good will, but we think it runs a bit deeper than that.

Ford is making good products. With the exception of the soon-to-be-replaced Focus, every vehicle they make is a class leader. There's no compelling reason to choose a Camry or Accord over a Fusion, and the Fusion Hybrid just might be the best gas/electric vehicle on the market. The Flex is a true segment buster, and perhaps the most comfortable under several hundred thousand dollar way to move four adults around. The F-150 is as good as ever. Would you choose a Yaris over a Fiesta? There's also Ford's faster product cycles (think new 2011 Mustangs) and market-leading technology like Sync. Put it like this: these survey results don't surprise us an iota.



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Americans Saying ‘No’ to Toyota; Ford Most Popular (Update1)

March 24, 2010, 9:29 PM EDT

By Jeff Green and Angela Greiling Keane

March 25 (Bloomberg) -- Americans are turning against Toyota Motor Corp. after sudden-acceleration complaints forced it to recall more than 8 million vehicles worldwide, while Ford Motor Co. is the most popular automaker.

More than four in 10 Americans say they “would definitely not buy a Toyota,” according to the Bloomberg National Poll. The Japanese company is viewed unfavorably by 36 percent of those interviewed, the highest negative rating in the survey, while fewer than half -- 49 percent -- have a favorable impression.

Ford, the only U.S. automaker that didn’t seek a federal rescue, is seen favorably by 77 percent of those surveyed, topping No. 2 Honda Motor Co. by seven percentage points. General Motors Co., eight months after getting U.S. aid to survive, has a positive rating of 57 percent.

The results show the challenge faced by Toyota, which in 2008 passed GM to become the world’s largest automaker, as it tries to regain consumer confidence, said Rebecca Lindland, an auto analyst at IHS Global Insight in Lexington, Massachusetts.

“In the short term, they need to focus on the people that have recently changed their minds about the company,” Lindland said in an interview. “In the long term, it could be quite different. It depends on how much they’ve alienated the people that are, say, under 40.”

‘Ignored’ Problem

The poll found that the older the respondent, the less likely they were to have a positive opinion of Toyota: 37 percent of people over 65 see the company favorably compared with 51 percent of those under 35.

The survey of 1,002 U.S. adults was conducted March 19-22 by Selzer & Co. of Des Moines, Iowa. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

“Obviously we’d like to have our favorable much higher and our unfavorable much lower,” said John Hanson, a spokesman for Toyota’s North American sales unit in Torrance, California. “But it looks like our sales this month will be very strong.”

The Toyota City, Japan-based company is using no-interest loans and lease discounts to coax back buyers after its U.S. sales dropped 12 percent in the first two months of this year. The incentives have helped boost sales as much as 44 percent so far in March from a year earlier, said Dave Cutting, senior manager of North American forecasting for J.D. Power & Associates.

Declining Market Value

Full-month sales may rise 37 percent, according to Cutting. Jesse Toprak, vice president of industry researcher TrueCar.com, expects 28 percent growth.

Toyota rose 1.1 percent to 3,755 yen as of 10:04 a.m. in Tokyo trading. The company has lost $16.3 billion in market value since announcing a recall on Jan. 21.

U.S. lawmakers, regulators and safety advocates have accused Toyota of responding too slowly to complaints of sudden acceleration. Testimony before congressional committees included documents showing company managers bragged about money they saved by negotiating to ward off recalls.

Of the 44 percent of respondents who said they would definitely not buy a Toyota if they were buying a new car in the next year, 39 percent cited the recent recalls.

“They’ve known this problem existed and they’ve ignored it and managed to get their government buddies to ignore it,” said poll respondent Ken Sorenson, 55, a disabled hazardous-waste worker from Corry, Pennsylvania. He is among those who said they definitely wouldn’t buy a Toyota.

Ford ‘Standing Tall’

Ford, which avoided the bankruptcy that hit GM and Chrysler Group LLC, returned to profit last year and gained U.S. market share for the first time since 1995. Its market value has increased almost fivefold in the last 12 months.

“I look at Ford and I think of good products and stability,” said respondent Torrey White, a 29-year-old sales representative in Chesapeake, Virginia, who drives a 2005 Ford Expedition. “Even with all of this bailout talk last year, Ford was standing tall.”

White said he’s positive about GM as well, because he wants to support American car companies.

“The headlines, the news coverage, influences overall reputation pretty significantly,” Edmunds.com Chief Executive Officer Jeremy Anwyl said. “Ford has benefited from 12-plus months of favorable headlines and the opposite for Toyota.”

GM has said it may return to profit this year, a year ahead of schedule.

Toyota’s overall favorable rating ranked fifth behind Ford, Honda, Nissan Motor Co. and GM, and was about equal with those of Chrysler and Hyundai Motor Co., according to the Bloomberg survey. Toyota had the highest “very unfavorable” rate at 12 percent.

To see the methodology and exact wording of the questions, click the attachment tab at the top of the story.

--Editors: Steve Geimann, Joe Winski



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