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Honda Named Automotive Brand of the Year

Surges past Ford, Toyota in new Harris Poll.

by on Jun.26, 2012

Despite some early criticism, the 2012 Honda Civic has helped the maker recover from recent problems.

Honda is the strongest automotive brand in the U.S. market, according to a new Harris Poll, surging past such perennial leaders as Ford and Toyota.  Meanwhile, Mercedes is the top luxury brand, according to the 2012 Harris EquiTrend study.

Honda’s surge to the top, toppling last year’s leader Ford, is significant considering the challenges the maker has been facing.  It is still recovering from last year’s inventory shortages that followed Japan’s devastating March earthquake and tsunami, and it has been hammered by mixed reviews of recent product updates, such as the 2012 Civic remake – while also suffering from a series of image-damaging recalls.

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Nonetheless, Honda received the highest score of any automaker based on a survey of thousands of American motorists.  The study looked at such factors as brand awareness and perceptions about quality and purchase consideration.

“This study offers strong evidence that the Honda brand continues to be well-regarded by American consumers,” said Mike Accavitti, vice president of National Marketing Operations for American Honda. “The combination of strong brand equity and a fresh line-up of new models that resonate with customers will drive strong growth for us this year.”

The Harris study shows there has been plenty of turmoil in the auto industry in recent years, with Ford slipping from first to third in the latest EquiTrend report.  On the other hand, Toyota, which was slammed by its own quality and safety issues, rebounded to second for 2012.

But Mercedes overcame its perennial rival Lexus to be named number one in the luxury segment, noted Mike Chadsey, Senior Consultant for Harris Interactive’s Customer Relationship Consulting team.

“Mercedes-Benz and Lexus have been battling over this top ranking for the last eight years,” said Chadsey. “Mercedes has ranked at the top for two years in a row and four of the last eight years, while Lexus has made it to the top spot three times. BMW is also usually within the top three, with especially strong scores over the last three years. Quality and Purchase Consideration both play important roles in these annual rankings.”

While it slipped to third overall, the study found that Ford’s score actually increased for 2012.  But the perceptions of the auto industry overall were up in the latest EquiTrend study, noted Chadsey, “a further testament to the competitive nature of the auto industry.”

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