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Most American consumers are not ready to buy a car from China, India

Consumer Reports News: August 22, 2011 03:23 PM

The majority of American consumers are not open to buying a car from a Chinese or Indian manufacturer. Such automakers looking to break into the U.S. market face challenges in brand awareness and acceptance, according to a new study by GfK Automotive, a global industry research firm.

The Barometer of Automotive Awareness and Imagery Study found that only 38 percent of respondents would consider buying Chinese and 30 percent Indian. In contrast, 95 percent are open to buying from an American company, trailed by German (76 percent), Japanese (75 percent), and Korean (49 percent).

Gen Y consumers were the most open to buying Chinese or Indian, with 52 percent saying they’d consider a car from China and 41 percent open to a car from India. Predictably, Baby Boomers were the least interested.

GfK cites the challenge Hyundai initially had gaining market acceptance in America, stating that “Chinese and Indian automakers could face a similar purchase consideration curve.” However, we would add that the quality, performance, safety, and reliability of the models make all the difference. And Hyundai initially trailed in all those regards. Perception took years to change, because the company itself took over 15 years to offer competitive products.

Companies such as BYD (China), Chery (China), and Mahindra (India) have in recent years declared intent to launch products in the United States, only to repeatedly delay their introduction. Clearly, the time will come when cars arrive on our shores directly from such manufacturers. For some, arguably, the time is now, as the current parent company for Land Rover and Jaguar, Tata, is an India-based corporation. And Volvo is owned by China-based Geely.

How important to you is the country of origin in choosing your next new car?

Jeff Bartlett

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