The firm says 15% of U.S. consumers say they would consider making their next car one from China. Also, 11% said they would consider buying a car from India, without knowing specific brands or vehicles. By contrast, 16% said they would consider a vehicle from Korea.
Dan Hall, VP at the Tustin, Calif.-based firm, says he was surprised by the numbers which matched those of Korean brands Hyundai and Korea, which have been in the U.S. for two decades. "We found that interesting; we hadn't expected such a large number of people would be receptive to these brands," he says. "But quite a few consumer products we purchase have been made in China for years, so consumers are quite comfortable with Chinese-built."
The new study, "Opportunity for Chinese and Indian Brands in the USA," also says those who would consider an Indian or Chinese car tend to be young, well-educated, and affluent for their age, with good jobs. Those who would consider such vehicles also tend to own Japanese or Korean vehicles now, meaning that the Indian or Chinese cars would most likely compete with imports rather than domestic brands Ford, Chrysler and GM.
Based on a national survey of more than 30,000 new car and truck buyers, the study also suggests that reliability and durability trump performance and handling among consumers most likely to consider the newcomers.
So, which brands are likely to make their way into the U.S.? Although Tata has probably gotten the most attention, both for the Nano micro car and for having acquired the Land Rover and Jaguar brands, Mahindra & Mahindra, whose U.S. office is in Atlanta, plans to bring the mid-sized Appalachian pickup truck here late this year, then an SUV later.