Tustin, California – A new survey by U.S. firm AutoPacific has found that American consumers’ opinions about Ford have been influenced positively by the company’s decision of government bailout funds, and by the bankruptcy filings of rivals General Motors and Chrysler.

AutoPacific’s online survey of more than 900 consumers found the following:

– Asian and European manufacturers scored highest when consumers were asked how concerned they were about buying or leasing a vehicle from a particular maker, with an average of 61 per cent responding “not concerned at all.” Ford scored 48 per cent, far ahead of GM’s 15 per cent and Chrysler’s 14 per cent.

– When respondents were asked how likely they were to buy or lease a new car from a specific manufacturer, Ford matched Toyota at 43 per cent for likely or very likely. Honda was next at 41 per cent, then Volkswagen at 33 per cent, Hyundai at 22 per cent, General Motors at 15 per cent, and Chrysler at 7 per cent.

However, the report also noted some skepticism, as 39 per cent “agreed” or “completely agreed” that Ford was simply lucky to have “cleaned house” before the economy downturn, and 39 per cent said that Ford has yet to prove it won’t ask for a bailout in the future.

“Ford’s restructuring, which started months before the current economic downturn, has clearly helped position it more closely with its Asian and European rivals than its domestic competitors, in terms of public perception,” said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific. “Some don’t think Ford is out of the woods, but overall, consumers view Ford quite favourably versus their cross-town rivals, and on par or better than most imports. All brands will be significantly challenged if the downturn continues into 2010.”

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