Way back in December, at the beginning of the Chrysler/GM bailout, back when everyone was afraid to utter the word "bankruptcy", the third member of Detroit's Big Three saw opportunity--specifically, the opportunity to make itself shiny and new. In much of Ford's PR, the company expressed sympathy for its failing rivals while simultaneously refusing bailout dough. We saw that for what it was: a not-too-subtle re-branding campaign, and it's proven awfully successful.
To illustrate, here's some data from a recent survey conducted by Auto Pacific, which asked over 900 U.S. consumers the following questions (with automaker names filling in the blanks):
- "How concerned are you about buying/leasing a vehicle from ___________?"
- "How likely are you to buy/lease a new car from ___________?"
Not surprisingly, Asian and European automakers scored best on question #1, with most folks (around 61%) responding that they were "not concerned at all" about buying/leasing from those manufacturers. Slightly further down the list, 48% said they weren't concerned about buying or leasing from Ford--which isn't great, but it's far above GM (15%) and Chrysler (14%).
Ford did even better on question #2, tying with Toyota for the most "likely/very likely" votes at 43%. Meanwhile, only 15% said they'd be likely to buy/lease from General Motors, and a mere 7% said the same of Chrysler.
Perhaps most intriguingly, Hyundai clocked in at 22%, which tells us that the company's recent "Car of the Year" success, matched with the buzz surrounding its Assurance Program, have done great things for the South Korean brand. Keep watching--things are getting interesting.