November 1, 2002

U.S. automakers continue to lose buyers to import brands

Tustin, California – Domestic vehicle producers General Motors Corporation, Ford Motor Company and the Chrysler Group continue to lose buyers to import-branded vehicles according to a new study by auto industry researcher AutoPacific.

About 88% of the sales of the traditional three American manufacturers were from people who already owned a domestic brand car or truck (this is up from 87% in 1997). Only about 12% of sales of American brand vehicles came from people who owned Asian or European brand vehicles previously. And most of those people were buying American brand trucks … not cars.

Asian brands continue to conquest owners of American nameplate cars and trucks. About 43% of sales of Asian brand vehicles came from buyers who previously owned an American car or truck. About 5% of sales of Asian brands came from people previously owning a European brand vehicle. About 52% of buyers of Asian brand vehicles previously had an Asian brand vehicle.

The European nameplate vehicles draw buyers equally from Asian (33%), American (32%) and European (35%) brands.

These basic car buyer dynamics forecast continuing pressure on domestic manufacturers struggling for sales in the face of unrelenting pressure from Asian and European manufacturers. The environment for new car and truck sales in the United States is projected to remain viciously competitive over the next five years.

According to George Peterson, President of AutoPacific, the old truism is apparently continuing to hold, “Once a customer has been lost by an American manufacturer to an Asian brand it is very difficult to get them back. Once a customer buys a European brand, it is very difficult for an American or Asian brand to get them back.”

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