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Study: Fewer customers avoiding domestic cars

Posted: February 9, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: February 9, 2012 2:00 a.m.

In this Aug. 30 photo, 2011 Chevrolet Malibus are lined up at a car dealership in San Jose.

A recent consumer study reports that the number of people avoiding domestic model cars is at a historic low, while more are avoiding imports.

The January study by J.D. Power and Associates was based on responses from 24,000 owners who registered a new vehicle in May 2011. Fourteen percent more people avoided buying an import car, while 6 percent fewer people said they were avoiding domestic models.

Jon Osborn, research director at J.D. Power and Associates, attributes these changes to a “buy American” sentiment due to the economic recession.

Don Fleming, president of the Santa Clarita Auto Dealers Association, pointed to an increase in quality of domestic models.

“Most of the cars made in the U.S., their product has improved,” Fleming said. “And as their products improved, they got some customers.”

Fleming also noted that many foreign auto companies have manufacturing plants in the U.S. so consumers with a “buy American” philosophy can still shop for an import brand. 

The study also found that gas mileage was the most influential reason for purchasing a particular model — more so than reliability or the deal.

According to AAA’s national price survey, the national average is 35 cents higher than a year ago.

Fleming said domestic technology and improvements have forced foreign manufacturers to follow suit, so buying a fuel-efficient model no longer require sacrificing quality, regardless of where the car is from.

“There’s some great product out there, and it’s going to be very competitive in 2012,” he said.




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