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Poll: Americans Say U.S. Cars Top Asian Autos

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Poll: More Americans say U.S. cars top Asian autos


Alan Fram / Associated Press

Washington -- After a long romance with foreign rivals, America's love affair with the automobile is returning to its roots with a revived affection for U.S.-made cars.

Slightly more Americans now say the United States makes better-quality vehicles than Asia does, with 38 percent saying U.S. cars are best and 33 percent preferring autos made by Asian companies, according to an Associated Press-GfK Poll.

The survey suggests those numbers are largely fueled by a plunge in Toyota's reputation and an upsurge in Ford's. The poll was conducted in March, as Toyota was being roiled by nightmarish publicity over its recall of more than 8 million vehicles around the globe and allegations that it responded sluggishly to safety concerns.

Though the U.S. advantage is modest, it marks a significant turnabout for American automakers battered by recession and relentless competition from foreign manufacturers. When the same question was asked in a December 2006 AP-AOL poll, 46 percent said Asian countries made superior cars, while just 29 percent preferred American vehicles, reflecting a perception of U.S. automotive inferiority that began taking hold about three decades ago.

"Toyota's problems are not to be minimized here," David Williams, dean of the business administration school at Wayne State University, said in explaining the attitude shift.

In both AP polls, Japan -- home to brands like Toyota, Honda and Nissan -- was by far the dominant Asian nation volunteered as producing the best cars. European autos -- which include BMW, Mercedes Benz and Volkswagen -- were called top quality by 15 percent last month, about the same as the 17 percent who said so four years ago.

Williams and others also cited a fresh look Americans are giving U.S. automakers, especially Ford and General Motors. Though GM and Chrysler went through bankruptcy last year and the federal government invested $80 billion to keep them afloat, GM has revamped its lineup with more fuel-efficient and crossover vehicles. Analysts say Ford revived its reputation by not accepting the taxpayer bailout and improving its vehicles' gasoline mileage.

Highlighting the changing attitudes, 15 percent in the March poll said Toyota makes the best cars, down from 25 percent who said so in 2006. Moving in the opposite direction was Ford, cited as tops by just 9 percent in 2006 but by 18 percent last month.

Eighteen percent said GM cars were best, little changed from 2006. Chrysler -- which continues to struggle -- remained mired at 3 percent.

"They last," Charlotte Flentge, 60, of Chester, Ill., a Chevrolet Cavalier owner, said of American autos. "You get a good American car, you know you have a quality car you can be safe in and not be afraid to put your family in."

Those likeliest to say Asian-made autos are superior included men, the better educated and residents of Western states. U.S. cars were a strong preference for those age 50 and older and rural residents.

Overall, though, only 51 percent in last month's poll expressed strong confidence that cars sold in the U.S. are safe, with owners of domestic and foreign cars giving similar responses. The 2006 survey did not ask that question.

"Toyota is leading the parade in reducing confidence in the safety of automobiles," said Gerald C. Meyers, a former auto executive with American Motors and now a University of Michigan business professor. "I suspect that's holding the number down a lot."

Despite consumers' altered views, the poll showed that allegiance remains strong to many makes. Well over nine in 10 owners of Fords, GMs, Hondas and Toyotas expressed satisfaction with their cars, with the figure slightly lower for Chryslers.

Among the brand loyalists is Vernon Harmon, 44, a police officer from Rock Hill, S.C., proud owner of a Toyota and a Mazda.

"I know people are going to say, 'That guy, is he not watching the news?'" he said. "I know what's going on. I still think Japan makes the best cars in the world. Period."

With the U.S. trying to claw out of a recession, the poll showed that Americans' taste for alternative-fuel cars is being tempered by economic realities. Such cars often cost more than similarly sized vehicles that run on gasoline.

By 61 percent to 37 percent, most said last month they would consider buying an alternative-fuel auto. That was a narrower margin than the 70 percent to 29 percent who said so in 2006.

Tellingly, people cited the environment and a desire to save money about equally last month when asked which would prevail in making their decision. Four years ago, with a strong economy, protecting the environment outweighed saving money, 47 percent to 34 percent.

"I'm concerned about the environment, but I don't want to kill myself, I don't want to go into bankruptcy," said Kathryn Mershon, 47, of Henderson, Nev.

The poll also found that:

--Fifty-six percent own vehicles made by U.S. automakers, about the same as in 2006.

--Eight in 10 live in households with autos, including about two-thirds who have two or more cars.

--Six in 10 autos were bought used.

--About four in 10 say their dream car would be a foreign brand, compared with three in 10 wishing for a domestic car.

The AP-GfK Poll was conducted March 3-8 by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media. It involved interviews with 1,002 adults conducted by landline and cellular telephones. The margin of sampling error was plus or minus 4.2 percentage points.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100421/AUTO01/4210395/1148/auto01/Poll--More-Americans-say-U.S.-cars-top-Asian-autos#ixzz0lkQGCfiD

Poll: Americans Say U.S. Cars Top Asian Autos

Associated Press

An Associated Press-GfK Poll shows that more Americans now say U.S.-made automobiles are better than cars made by Asian countries.

April 6: A woman walks past Toyota Prius cars for sale at a Toyota dealer in Hollywood. (AFP)

WASHINGTON - Could the U.S. love affair with foreign autos be cooling?

An Associated Press-GfK Poll shows that more Americans now say U.S.-made automobiles are better than cars made by Asian countries.

People give American autos an edge over their Asian competitors 38 percent to 33 percent.

That's a modest advantage, but a big turnabout from a 2006 AP-AOL poll in which Americans picked Asian-made autos over U.S. autos for quality, 46 percent to 29 percent.

The change reflects Toyota's fading reputation as well as growing respect for Ford.

Fifteen percent of those polled in March said Toyota makes the best cars, down from 25 percent in 2006.



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Ive had FOURTEEN GM Vehicles. out of the 14 I had exactly ONE "lemon". and that was a NINE YEAR OLD CHEVY CORSICA. I bought the following cars new and owned them 2 or 3 years and they NEVER went back to the shop for anything but an oil change. 2004 Chevy Cavalier, 2002 Pontiac Grand am GT. 2000 Pontiac Grand am GT, 1998 Olds Intrigue, 1999 Chevy Camaro, 2006 Pontiac G6.

the people who buy imports probably havent even drove an american auto for 20 years. They had one bad one back in the 1980's and they think they are still junk. maybe they are starting to realize how they have WRECKED the U.S economy. Guess what. people wouldnt be layed off work if you didnt buy that car that was assembled in Japan, Korea or Germany. and yes those companies have plants here too but where do you think all the profit's go?? Not here for sure.

Isnt it funny that most of the imports come for a country that we have fought with in the last 75 years??? I guess in 50 years from now we will be all driving cars made in Afghanistan and Iraq.

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That Ford had such a rise while GM remained static might be due to GM's greater financial woes. But I suspect the larger contributor was Ford's brilliant decision to pay for a quality survey and then market the heck out of it, all the while hoping that the american public doesn't recognize the difference between quality and reliability.

Brilliant... especially the first year when Ford still trailed Honda/Toyota (yes, even in Ford's own survey), but Ford claimed parity because they were within the survey's margin of error.

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the american public doesn't recognize the difference between quality and reliability.

Define quality. A definition that the majority of people will agree on. Good luck. The term "quality" is extremely subjective, and you'll get 3 answers about what it is from every 2 people you ask. I would bet many of them would include some aspect of reliability in their definition. What makes them wrong and you right?

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