Westlake Village, California – More than 40 per cent of new-vehicle buyers avoided a particular model due to “conventional wisdom” or “common knowledge” of its quality or reliability, rather than personal experience, reviews, ratings or recommendations, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

The company’s Avoider Study, now in its ninth year, examines the reasons why consumers avoid or fail to consider particular models when shopping for new vehicles.

Perceptions of a vehicle’s reliability have consistently been a prominent reason for avoiding specific brands or models. Among buyers who avoided a particular model, 43 per cent said it was because “the brand’s vehicles, in general, are known to have poor quality/reliability.” Another 38 per cent based their decision on ratings and reviews, while 14 per cent based it on prior ownership of that model.

“The fact that so many new-vehicle buyers may be basing their opinions about quality and reliability on preconceived notions, rather than concrete information or data, demonstrates how important it is for automakers to promote the quality and reliability of their models,” said research director Jon Osborn. “For some brands, namely those that have created marked improvements in their quality and reliability in recent years, it’s even more vital to tell their improvement story, rather than just waiting for perceptions to change over time.”

Osborn said it is also important for consumers to challenge their perceptions about what they may think they know about the quality and reliability of a particular model. Although some may have had a poor reputation in the past, actual quality or reliability performance may have improved since then, and seeking reviews and recommendations from trusted sources is particularly helpful in making decisions.

The percentage of buyers who avoided import models because of their origin has increased to 14 per cent in 2012, the highest level since the study began in 2003. Conversely, the percentage of those who avoided domestic models due to their origin has declined to a historically low level of 6 per cent. Osborn said that this may be due to a “buy American” sentiment, and quality, dependability and appeal improvements of domestic models in the past recent years.

Fuel mileage is the most influential reason for purchasing a particular model in 2012, surpassing reliability, the deal and exterior styling, which were the most influential purchase reasons in 2010.

The Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf and Toyota Prius captured much attention from buyers, with fuel mileage and environmental impact among the two most often cited purchase reasons for each. However, there were marked differences between them for the next most-cited reason. For the Volt, the image the model portrays is a prominent reason for purchase, while buyers cite low maintenance costs for the Leaf and reliability for the Prius.

Among those who avoided the models, purchase price was the most-cited reason for not choosing the Volt, while exterior styling was a turn-off for the Leaf and Prius. Other prominent reasons for avoiding these models included small size for the Volt and Leaf, and performance for the Prius.

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