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GM, Chrysler get cold shoulder from consumers, report says

Fri, 20 Mar 2009 00:00:00 -0700

General Motors and Chrysler clearly have an image problem.

In a classic case of: "It's not me--it's you," fewer consumers are considering the two Detroit automakers in the wake of their pleas for government assistance and bankruptcy rumors.

The share of buyers who would make a GM car their primary choice fell 12 percent, and the share of Chrysler intenders dropped by one third, according to a study released Thursday by CNW Research of Bandon, Ore.

The winner: Ford. The company has not sought government aid--thus avoiding the public humiliation of being lumped with the nation's foundering financial institutions. Its consideration level rose nearly 12 percent, perhaps a sign the Blue Oval is picking up the slack with American-oriented consumers.

"There is nothing to stop the slide in intentions for those on the downside of this survey," CNW's research note said. "But decisions to cut back on advertising and marketing haven't helped GM or Chrysler. Nor has talk of bankruptcy, which continues to haunt those brands.

Other winners include Hyundai and Kia, which saw their consideration levels rise 59 percent and 50 percent, respectively, according to CNW.

Honda posted a healthy 13-percent upturn, and Toyota eeked out a 3-percent gain. The third Japanese giant, Nissan, plummeted 11 percent.

Collectively, the Detroit 3 saw their consideration level fall nearly 10 percent, while the top Japanese companies increased 9 percent.

The study was conducted among more than 40,000 potential new-car buyers in January and February, and compared intent with last year's market share.

By Greg Migliore