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NEWS FLASH: Detroit Car Company Brands Pass Japanese Auto Brands in Consumer Ratings and Reviews

According to what vehicle owners are reporting to various automotive review and rating sites, American domestic makes are rated by consumers as being better than Japanese car company brand vehicles.

Top American non-luxury auto brands received higher ratings and less negative comments from online consumers than competing Japanese brands, according to an analysis of consumer opinions collected from automotive review websites by Biz360.

The research, which aggregated a year’s worth of customer reviews and comments from websites such as Auto Mall USA, Edmunds, IntelliChoice and Yahoo Autos, isolated the attributes and features most likely to be commented on by consumers and determined the factors that most influence satisfaction and purchase decisions in the automotive category. It then set out to determine which brands had more positive and negative comments and which comments were more influential overall.

Biz360 found that performance, comfort and exterior styling are the most important product attributes, and - along with general opinions - they accounted for more than 75% of all online opinions on non-luxury automobiles.


Specific brand findings:

* Ford and Chevrolet ranked higher on more key product attributes than did Toyota and Honda, and Ford outranked all three car companies overall in rankings across these attributes.


* Over the past year, Toyota vehicles received 16% more negative comments than the average of the negative comments for the four brands combined.
* Both Ford & Chevrolet brands outranked Honda and Toyota on Biz360’s “net advocacy” measurement, which incorporates positive and negative sentiment and weight of individutal comments.


* Both Honda and Toyota accounted for a higher percentage of negative opinions than their two domestic counterparts.

“With the national spotlight focused on the fortunes of US automakers, we were interested in looking at consumer feedback of the most popular brands in the mid-size car category,” said Stephen Foster, senior director of analyst services at Biz360. “The results of the analysis are encouraging for these domestic brands. They indicate that certain American cars brands are considered superior to equivalent Japanese brands by consumers when they discuss the key attributes of performance, comfort & exterior styling.”

About the research: Using its proprietary Opinion Insights analytics technology, Biz360 analyzed nearly 300,000 online opinions posted between October 31, 2007 and November 1, 2008. The technology is built on advanced data aggregation and analytics techniques, including natural language processing (NLP) to enable expert and consumer review extraction and analysis across multiple brands, products, attributes and features.

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Tags: Consumer Ratings, Detroit Car Company, Japanese Auto Brands, automotive brands, automotive quality, automotive sales, car brands, car reviews, car sales, consumer Reviews, More…vehicle ratings

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Comment by Ralph Paglia on January 5, 2009 at 7:34am
Two things I would like to point out, only because they may hold a glint of promise and encouragement. In response to Wendell's question/suggestion about a website that explains what Detroit is doing, please check out http://www.fordvehicles.com/thefordstory/ and in response to Stan Sher's resale value observation, GM's Cadillac CTS was awarded Kelley Blue Book's "Highest Resale Value" award for 2009 based on the last 3 model years. So maybe there is hope... Personally, I see two VERY different car companies with GM and Ford. Ford is managed far more effectively than GM and most industry insiders will say the same thing. GM builds some really great products, but the company is managed by many truly incompetent or unnecessary people. Ford is much better managed, but alas is run so lean that there is much to do without people in place to do it. But, it is always a lot easier to acquire talent and grow, than it is to downsize. So, my money would be on Ford, and I believe David Ruggle's investment in Ford stock is a wise move. What Detroit needs is Ford's management team running GM... That dog WOULD hunt!
Comment by Wendell Dossett on January 4, 2009 at 5:52pm
You know what may be the most troubling for me is that, I really fear losing any of the Makes of vehicles. I truly want all to survive. Having vehicles that last long is good, but many times very boring. I know I've sold them for a long time. And I agree Ralph - a lot of true value in ownership is the passion you have for the beast. It just seems as though their is really a mental shift now. It just seems so far fetched that all of a sudden things will change and the buying will come back. This Credit Card thing is going to hit hard soon. I'm sure no one is seeing this also. Getting the bail outs and surviving through a few months looks like a sloppy bandage. Is anything going to change in a few months when that 4 billion runs out. Are we putting it into plants, or a maybe a Campaign or a website that would say I am doing this right because of this and that. And look here this is how we feel - Come back and check our progress. Maybe a marketing Campaign that address what is really happening and has happened. Not we are this and that- you aren't like a rock anymore, you are not Quality is job 1- wrong , wrong, uh wrong. Maybe a campaign like , You should expect this now, you will benefit by this now, you are going to get this because our life depends on it. Maybe go to Dan Kennedy's school of marketing 101(hit them with emotion). Everyone I talk with on the street is saying," What are they doing". Most say it's just to pay the retirees. They are probably right, it's perception taking over. People on the street are getting pissed. Bought a car that had passion, passion gone, car gone, now were going to bail um out.
We very badly need a midwest of America. Fixing a bad product, company, CEO- with our tax money is getting many people very mad. When there is no plan, just money going out. Even stupid people can see that as being a bad plan. Take the example of AIG and the $440 million dollar party after their bailout.
I believe that peoples passion, at least in my neck of the woods, is passion to get through the dark tunnel we are looking at right now. I don't see too many want or passion buyer's. I see scared and hope to get a loan buyers, buyers that want transportation that will last buyers. Buyers that are scared to death they won't have a job next week.
It's no longer a 90% want, 10% need world. You can bet the best companies out there have a plan . They always do.
Toyota had a plan with Prius. A car that was put out 10 years ago. And still to this day has very few if any recalls. A car that doesn't even have a transmission or mechanical brakes. I know boring. But not to the right customer. People ask " Well, how long does the battery last". Well, we don't know they haven't failed. They still say that this is new technology, well yes it would be for most I guess. Heck they have been giving it away for years now but no one wants to take the time to build it like Toyota did. Most people don't realize that Toyota took a sizable on each one they sold for years, but that was determination to keep prices in line and perfect it. Now you may say, this guy is pro Toyota, well it does help to sell your product I guess. But the point here is how can a company of this size, take over the business, Why does this happen. How can a company with 8 models of cars 12 years ago, do this. There are lessons to learned form history here. I know that's work, but bull s*** aint gonna do it anymore. People can't afford it. Maybe it different in Florida or California, but I believe you all are looking for bailouts too.
Wendell
Comment by David Ruggles on January 4, 2009 at 2:51pm
I follow the run lists religiously for both ADESA and Manheim in my business. While there is an abundance of inventory in the remarketing stream currently for all brands it is not the "imports" who have historically undermined the value of their owner's vehicles by excessive sales and cycling to rental companies. Whatever the "imports" are doing they are doing it right as they are the ones with the enviable resale values! I am merely submitting some thoughts and ideas for why the Big 3 have some of the problems they have. If they don't acknowledge the problems it will be hard for them to fix them. Bob Lutz, for one, has been quite vocal about GM's past shortcomings on interiors. They've made substantial progress. The Malibu interior I referenced was a pleasing tu-tone but it did not have the "soft touch" tactile feel necessary to compete with segment leaders.

BTW, I am a Ford shareholder. I don't hold Toyota, GM, Honda or anyone else... only Ford, and I purchased those shares recently. So I'm rooting for them. Kerkorian is selling and I'm buying, although certainly not on the same scale.

I'm also against any initiative to get rid of dealers through any other means other than natural attrition. I fail to see what major economies can be realized by axing a bunch of dealers. State laws would prohibit this anyway. Getting rid of Saturn, Hummer, and some other dead brands is a whole "nuther "subject. The problem is, how does one plan for the future if one can't predict the price of oil. Again, I agree with Lutz. We NEED a gas tax that slides with the price of oil and provides stable and HIGHER fuel prices, phased in over time. Otherwise, its back to the old ways of the Big 3 specializing in "heavies" ,that are mostly out of reach of CAFE, making the Big 3 and the economy vulnerable to sudden swings in the world price of oil.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on January 4, 2009 at 2:03pm
Wendell,

Relax, man... don't ruin lunch or dinner over the debate as to whether a Chevy or a Toyota is better! In fact, get used to it, because for the first time in awhile, there may actually BE A DEBATE!!!! LOL, look, I work for all the car companies, including Toyota, and there is a lot to be said for healthy competition and quality comparison discussions and debates... But, I cannot help but root for the underdog, it's something I inherited from my Grandfather... And, for the longest time American car company brands have been the underdog in the product quality debate.

The reality is that when somebody owns a vehicle for 2 or more years, their perception of the ownership experience is driven by many more factors than whether something broke or not. Check out the charts in the above article I published... Turns out that when you have to live with a vehicle for awhile, there are many things as or more important than whether something broke or not. In the end, Quality as defined by many of the Japanese car companies has been characterized by whether anything breaks or not... I could sell you a block of wood with 4 wheels on it and it wouldn't break... But, would you enjoy owning it? Probably not... The BMW owned MINI is a great example... Some of the highest defect rates of any vehicle sold in recent years... But, the car generates extremely high owner satisfaction and repeat business as well.

Again, quality in the automotive world is often in the eye of the beholder... Would I rather drive a Toyota Corolla for 200,000 miles of trouble free motoring, or drive a Porsche 911 for 50,000 miles at 4 times the maintenance expense? If I eliminate initial purchase cost, then give me that Porsche!!! But, for many other people, the Corolla would be the choice. Currently, I drive a Ford Expedition with 80,000 plus miles on it and my wife drives a 2008 Cadillac CTS with all the options, and we keep a Chevy HHR as a backup vehicle in the garage. Amazingly enough, sometimes I go to drive somewhere and the Expedition is gone... My wife says that sometimes she would rather drive the big SUV... Go figure. I can also tell you that the Cadillac has had more go wrong with it in 10 months and 8,000 miles since new then the Expedition has had break in 5 years and 80,000 miles... Do I think the Expedition is "better" than the Cadillac? My wife does, but I do not... My point is that QUALITY OF OWNERSHIP EXPERIENCE is comprised of a lot more than whether or not something breaks on the car!

Heck, one of the best cars I have ever bought new was a 1980 Triumph TR7 Convertible "Anniversary Edition"... Not exactly a car company brand that anyone would have ever associated with "quality"! I drove that Triumph through blizzards in Buffalo, Hurricanes in Florida, Tornadoes in Oklahoma and torrential downpours in Texas. I kept it for 3 years after getting to San Diego, despite getting a demo when I started selling cars... Met my first wife in it, and did not sell it until my second daughter was born. The only parts I ever replaced were oil filters and 1 alternator that was covered under factory warranty. I bought a 2003 Nissan Murano brand new... That SUV was in the shop a dozen times for alternators, starters, windshield wiper motors, power window lift and a CVT transmission malfunction and recall... In my personal experience the old British Leyland owned Triumph built better cars than Nissan from a defect per mile perspective. But, then there is the 300ZX Turbo I owned for 7 years without a problem, but that is another story... Hopefully, you get my point.

Quality of ownership experience is determined by many more factors than simply freedom from defects in material and workmanship!
Comment by Ralph Paglia on January 4, 2009 at 1:38pm
You naughty car salesman, you... Bad, bad, bad... Not supposed to sell Hondas to rental car companies... Tsk, tsk, tsk!
Comment by Wendell Dossett on January 4, 2009 at 12:23pm
Everyone in the auto business or any related business(especially in the midwest) should hope and work for all auto companies and dealers to survive and thrive. I think it is a must to having a prosperous business and great future. But to think that all of a sudden the American makes are "just as good", or getting there, is a little naive. Like most people we are becoming suspect of reports or stats that say this or that. Like eggs are good for you now, or, now there not. Same way with coffee or bread. Just give it a little time and we will have great Chinese cars I guess. Being in the retail world of Toyota the quality difference is still to this day staggering compared to domestics. I do believe they have made strives, but you need to look close. In Used cars we drive all makes and models of trades. Some new some old. This is not sitting in an office talking about it, it would be on the lot doing it. To say a Malibu is better or even closes in is a long way off. I dare you to slam a Malibu door and a Camry. How bout gong back to a 2000 model and doing it. How bout trying to find a Used Camry - Accord - Civic - Corolla, on the Used car lot and doing it - Well you probably couldn't find it because it sold the day it came in for about $1500 over KBB Private Party. I just ran a comparison of a 2005 model Malibu against a Camry(except the Camry is a 4 not a 6cly), 60k miles. The KBB Private party difference was 30% in value. Thats not taking in to account the actual price you could sell for, which usually takes it to more like 35-40% diff in value. You may say that's pretty dim look. No that's reality and people are catching on. They(we) are getting wise to surveys and this is all talk(Madoff, Enron, AIG). They are understanding its driving them to the poor house. Cars that last are what people want. It's more than a perception, its a fact when you look at this in real life. I wonder why I can occasionally take a video of a 600,000 mile Camry that still runs good. Or a Tacoma that has 780,000 miles on it. You know I can't remember a domestic that came within half of either of those examples. Question: How much money would the buyer of these obviously great vehicles have spent to drive those miles in other brand vechicles? Anyway - maybe don't think about it.
Now did I miss something here or are the domestics up and running in a new modern production facilities. Have some us been through the Gold standard production plants that these Import companies have been building. If not they are like a hospital. Perfectly run and accountability through the roof. Any one on the line can stop it it there may be a problem spotted and rewarded for it. Being an engineer for a Japanese company many years ago for 10 years, I can truly say that the investment in your own R&D and just getting it done right at all costs is paramount. What ain't getting it done: Begging for money(way down on repeat business scale), Driving instead of flying to congressional meetings, Hoping this year will be better, $1 pay checks, Gorillas on roofs, No obvious plan of attack(wheres the plan, hell Ralph- write it for them, I think you already did recently - send t to them), Producing in old out dated plants, producing vehicles with out dated engines(Hemi - hell, that was made in the 40;s?). Don't get me started on engines, Toyota and Honda have been doing VVT-i engines that are far more efficient and advanced than the Briiggs special a lot are still trying to push. Quality is what people want now. They learned and have been burned enough. Buy quality and it lasts with no excuses or reports saying otherwise. Go to sell it and make out like a bandit. Because you bought smart and you changed your oil when you should, you can sell and call it a good investment. I guess that's it - if you can buy smart - it can be an investment. If you don't and hate the piece of crap then its a hot stove you won't re-visit. Well, I'm pissed now and have to eat, I hate eating when I'm pissed.
Wendell
Comment by Dwayne Shirley on January 4, 2009 at 11:59am
Ralph,

It may have been me. We sold a ton of cars to Rental when I was at McDavid Honda in Frisco.
Comment by Ralph Paglia on January 4, 2009 at 10:46am
Dwayne,

Like you, I have sold both domestics and imports... I have seen the Good, the Bad and the Ugly from America, Europe and Asia... But, I do want you to know that American Honda Motor Co. has a fairly aggressive set of policies in place to prevent the sale of Honda vehicles to rental car companies. Of course, AHM cannot prevent dealers from selling new Hondas to rental car companies, but I can share from first hand experience how serious they take this strategy.

In June of 2005 I had a permanent office at AHM in Torrance, CA where I commuted from my home at the time in Albuquerque, NM. On one of my trips to Honda, I received a 2005 Honda Accord as a rental car from Hertz. When I mentioned this to one of my contacts at AHM, he became concerned and asked that I take him to the parking lot so he could see the vehicle. When I took him out there, he wrote down the Accord's VIN... I asked him why he was doing that. His response was "So I can do some research and find out which dealer sold the vehicle, how it was reported sold and take any appropriate measures to ensure no more Hondas are sold to rental car companies...". Of course, I am paraphrasing, but his response sure made a deep impression on me regarding how important Honda considers keeping their cars out of rental car fleets.
Comment by Dwayne Shirley on January 4, 2009 at 10:26am
"The last one I rented made a stab at a Toyota or Honda caliber interior but there was still too much hard plastic."
Are you kidding me, or maybe I just missed your statement about the "imports" having too much hard plastic. LOL. Seriously, the"domestics" have no more hard plastic in the interior than most of the imports.

As far as flooding the rental market, maybe you haven't seen the run lists at Manheim Dallas and Adesa Dallas. They are both flooded with with Kia, Hyundai, Honda, Nissan and Toyota rental cars.

Once again David, I say all of this with all due respect. You have longer experience than I and I have never been a dealer, so I must give kudos to you. I am just asking you to observe ALL the facts.
Comment by David Ruggles on January 4, 2009 at 9:20am
I certainly agree with Ralph on his many points. In fact, I think he remade some of my own, especially about the "push marketing" of the domestics and how the successful importers have made sure the remarketing channels aren't flooded with daily rental cars, etc.

I'm not here to do anything but observe the facts. I've had 38 years in the industry to observe. First as a sales person for Chrysler beginning in 19070. Over the years I have been a dealer or general manager for Chrysler, GMC, Ford, Mercedes Benz, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota. I am convinced that "overlooking" deficiencies of the domestics does them no good at all. After what they have done to themselves they need to hold themselves to a higher standard. They can't get where they want to go by being perceived as equal to the "imports." They have to be better. They can't do it with cheap hard plastic interiors and harsh push rod engines, just because they want to save a few bucks.

I also have a hard time calling vehicles made in the U.S. imports, especially when so many of the Big 3 vehicles are manufactured in Canada or Mexico and many of their parts are sourced from China. To me, its not about import or domestic. That line has been long since blurred.

Having said all of this, I like the new GM ads. The Big 3 HAVE brought some interesting products to market. Bob Lutz DOES know what he's doing. The push rod HEMI and Corvette engines are masterpieces. The CTS is cool. There are some bright spots. BUt for all the talk about Malibu, I see thousands of them on the streets as taxicabs. The rental fleets are full of them. The last one I rented made a stab at a Toyota or Honda caliber interior but there was still too much hard plastic. It will take more than a PR campaign to get the Big 3 where they need to go.

Chrysler seems to be in complete disarray. MB gutted many of their product initiatives years ago. The Germans kept them from sourcing parts from China so they are behind they 8 ball there. Cerberus doesn't believe in them enough to invest any more money in them. Bob Corker was right in everything he said.... Cerberus wants to the government to finance their dating process so they can find a partner. All of these companies have negative net worth balance sheets. They want more money than their companies are worth in terms of the value of their stock. All told, we absolutely have to support them. But turning a blind eye to their faults and challenges won't help them in the long run.

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