Media reports of the death of Toyota are greatly exaggerated, according to the latest research from CNW, the National Automobile Dealer’s Association and AutoTrader.com.
Among the so-called Toyota “Intenders,” 7% now say they will not buy a new Toyota product. Sounds bad, right?
Immediately after its latest unintended acceleration recall last month, the intender number was down 18% — so potential buyers are already drifting back.
CNW interprets its survey this way: long-time Toyota owners consider this a major issue, but the faith in the brand is still strong. The vast majority will not abandon Toyota models because of the recalls.
While Ford, Honda and Hyundai have become stronger on Toyota-product shopping lists, none of them displaced the Toyota product in question from its number one position as the preferred choice. So maybe in short term, Toyota will have to work harder to retain these customers and close sales to prevent inroads by competitors.
Looking at another data source, Toyota’s recall problems also did not impact car shoppers’ searches for Toyota vehicles in January when compared to activity on AutoTrader.com in December of 2009 or the previous January.
Compared to December 2009, most new and used Toyota models on AutoTrader.com maintained their rankings or moved down only one spot. The used Toyota Camry actually saw an increase in searches on AutoTrader.com in January 2010 compared to December 2009, moving the car up from No. 23 in December 2009 to No. 19 in January.
On January 26, Toyota Motor Sales suspended sales of the eight Toyota models involved in the accelerator pedal recall, negatively affecting Toyota’s January sales. The eight models represented more than 60% of Toyota’s inventory at the time.
It’s true that the stop sale of Toyota products in January allowed Ford to displace it as the Number Two automaker in the U.S., but it won’t be clear how wounded the brand is until February sales or first quarter sales are reported. (more…)