Ford stands to gain from Toyota's problems, at least in the short term -- as does Chevrolet. So says the automotive group of Hachette-Filipacchi-owned firm Jumpstart, whose results and predictions are based on surveys and car shopping behavior across sites like Vehix, Car and Driver and Consumer Guide Automotive.
Jumpstart says Toyota's problems have led 51% of shoppers who would have normally considered a Toyota to remove the brand from their consideration set. The firm says it will take Toyota two to three years to recover.
Until it does, Jumpstart's surveys say, among shoppers who have cut Toyota from their consideration set, 17% claim they will likely replace Toyota with a Ford vehicle. But far more (48%) say they will buy a Chevy. Still, in a January survey, Ford was the top non-luxury brand named by buyers overall as their next considered purchase.
The firm predicts Ford will grow its market share to over 13%, and Fusion will move into the Top 5 in cars sold in 2010.
Ford says its own recent trade-in data suggest the Dearborn, Mich. automaker is swaying customers who previously owned competitive brands. The company says that for the Ford brand, the rate of customers who traded in competitive brand vehicles rose 18% from 2005 to 2009, while the conquest rate for Lincoln rose 61% and for Mercury 12%. Ford says its Fusion, Escape, Mustang, Taurus, Mercury Mariner Hybrids, and Lincoln MKX were best at conquesting competitive brands.
Ford says that since 2002, the average household income of its customers has risen about 20% and the number of Ford customers with college degrees has risen nearly 10%. Joe Kyriakoza, VP of strategic insights, Jumpstart Automotive Group, says data about potential Toyota expatriates come from a February 2010 poll when news of Toyota's problems was beginning to dominate.
He says the poll, garnering some 600 responses, found that after Chevy and Ford -- in order -- Chrysler, Honda and Nissan were the next go-to auto brands for Toyota avoiders. "Again, we were surprised by those results as well. What we have started to pick up on is that there may be a pro-American-car sentiment -- that Toyota's problems may have given consumers a reason to start considering American cars more than they have in the past."
Jumpstart says vehicle purchase intent across the industry is up 126% over the last 18 months, largely because of the Cash for Clunkers program's late-year surge. Also, per the firm, only 14% of car shoppers know specifically which make and model of vehicle they want, and less than 50% even have an idea about what body style they want.
Kyriakoza says positive sales numbers don't mean 2010 is going to see a return to 16 million units. "There's a lot of hope right now because March numbers are trending up, but that might be false because of incentives, and Toyota is doing a lot of that. If you look at the last three months, sales are up versus last year, but those three months last year were when the industry was at rock bottom. Anything up from the first quarter last year looks good."