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Increasing Number of Car Shoppers Buying American

More car shoppers are buying or are more strongly considering buying American brand cars, according to the 2012 J.D. Power and Associates Avoider Study. This study “examines the reasons consumers fail to consider—or avoid—particular models when shopping for a new vehicle,” according to J.D. Power.

The study finds that “the percentage of buyers who avoided import models because of their origin has increased to 14 percent in 2012—the highest level since the inception of the study in 2003. Conversely, the percentage of buyers who avoided domestic models due to their origin has declined to 6 percent, a historically low level.” Jon Osborne, research director at J.D. Power, says this change in buyer preference can be attributed to the “buy-American" sentiment that came about after the 2007 recession, when many American workers found themselves unemployed.

The study found that “40% of buyers say they steered clear of one brand or another because of what they’ve heard about quality, rather than actually checking for the latest data,” says The Detroit Bureau. This shows that consumers’ perceived notions of domestic automaker quality is on the upswing, versus years ago when quality issues were one of the primary reason that consumers avoided the Big Three and stuck with import brands like Honda and Toyota.

Backing up this finding, Ford Motor Company today announced its 2011 profits, which are the highest they’ve been since 1998. Ford also said that 2011 marked its third straight year of U.S. market share growth. General Motors announced last week that it sold more vehicles worldwide than any other automaker. While GM’s news can be partially attributed to natural disasters that forced Japanese automakers to cut production, GM offered more competitive and desirable products in the U.S., which  also played a key role.

Given the “buy-American” sentiment, foreign automakers will likely put forth more effort to show consumers how they’re helping the American economy, since it might help them find favor among U.S.  consumers. According to Bloomberg, with “Volkswagen’s new Tennessee plant and recent hiring by BMW in South Carolina, international carmakers are adding 6,350 jobs this year at their U.S. factories, with 3,400 more coming in 2012 as Toyota, Honda, Nissan Motor, and Daimler’s Mercedes expand U.S. operations.”

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