Misleading Research: Americans Now Prefer American Cars

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American cars have now passed their Asian competitors in the quality race among US consumers. The new Associated Press-GfK Poll shows that “38 percent say U.S. cars are best and 33 percent prefer autos made by Asian companies.” The survey covered 1,002 adults interviewed between March 3rd and March 8th.

If the news about Toyota is left out of the research, the results paint a completely different picture. Fifteen percent in the March poll said Toyota makes the best cars, down from 25 percent who said so in 2006.

Ford’s reputation improved, which should be no surprise given its rising sales over the past year.  Ford vehicles were ranked first by 9%  in 2006.  That rose to 18% last month. GM’s number was consistent at 18% and Chrysler’s at 3%.

The most surprising results of the survey is the extent to which Americans are loyal to the brand of their current cars.  “Well over nine in 10 owners of Fords, GMs, Hondas and Toyotas expressed satisfaction with their cars,” the poll showed.

The interest in alternative energy cars also increased significantly. “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.” But, not much narrower.

The headline of the Associated Press-GfK Poll is that Japanese cars have slipped behind their American rivals. Nothing could be further from the truth. The research is flawed enough that it does not show how much Americans hate hybrid vehicles.

Douglas A. McIntyre