Sales of General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) Chevrolet cars have not been robust lately. GM and many analysts blame this on an aging model line, which will be updated soon. GM thinks that, combined with those updates, a new ad slogan can help lift demand. That will not be true if the perception of the brand, its quality and that of its competition, taken all together, cause sales and market share to continue to fall.
Chevy’s new tagline will be “Find New Roads.” This slogan will be used worldwide as GM hopes to drive more Chevy sales overseas. GM brand management plans to use the “Find New Roads” marketing for at least the next ten years. That will be ten years too long, if Chevy car and light truck quality cannot match that of competitors.
Because of the size and diversity of its model line, Chevy competes with other huge brands, which include particularly Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM), Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F), Hyundai and Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC). Each has a wide array of coupes, sedans, SUVs, crossovers and light trucks. The base prices of Chevy products range from $12,185 for the Spark to $49,600 for the Corvette. Chevy has one of the best-selling electric cars among all manufacturers — the Volt.
The recent J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Survey demonstrates the large quality chasm Chevy has to traverse. Measured by “problems per 100 vehicles,” Chevrolet falls just below the industry average. Honda, Hyundai, Ford and Toyota are above that benchmark. New ratings from research firm Truecar show similar problems. The firm’s December “Brand Performance Scorecard” gave Chevy a “C” rating, which was well below Ford, Hyundai, Toyota and Ford.
Many, many consumers pay close attention to how experts and research firms evaluate brands. Chevy must change its place in those ratings and move well up the lists so that its cars and light trucks are on par with, or better than, those of its direct competition.