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Old 10-09-2006, 06:12 PM   #1
KILLER74Z28
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Thumbs up 4 GM vehicles win in satisfaction survey

4 GM vehicles win in satisfaction survey

October 9, 2006

By SARAH KARUSH

Toyota Motor Corp. lost some ground to the competition in an annual vehicle value survey released today.

Honda Motor Co. held onto its overall ranking as the best full-line automaker, while General Motors Corp., which won in four segments, was the only domestic automaker with any top-ranked vehicles.

Toyota, which had seven segment winners in 2005, took only three categories in this year’s study by Strategic Vision Inc. Meanwhile, Hyundai Motor Co. gained ground, with its Kia Optima taking the top spot for medium car, the Hyundai Azera winning for larger car, and the Kia Sedona ranking as the top minivan. The Hyundai
Tucson tied with GM’s Saturn Vue for top-ranked small sport utility vehicle.

San Diego-based Strategic Vision surveyed more than 64,000 people who purchased new vehicles from October 2005 to March 2006. Participants were questioned after 90 days of ownership. The study, separate from Strategic Vision’s quality survey, tries to capture whether consumers believe they got their money’s worth and factors in emotional components.

Honda took top honors in the small car category for the Honda Civic and in the compact pickup segment with the Ridgeline. The Honda Accord Coupe was the top mid-specialty car, and the Honda Pilot was the top medium crossover SUV.

“One thing about Honda that is just really clear: They have the strongest brand equity of any brand out there,” said Alexander Edwards, president of Strategic Vision’s automotive research group.

Honda has also done an excellent job at innovation, Edwards said. He cited the Ridgeline, which is expensive compared to other compact pickups but has features such as a folding rear bench seat and a tailgate that can open either by folding down or by swinging open like a door. Such features, combined with Honda’s “perceived reliability and durability,” help boost the brand’s value, Edwards said.

Toyota is a close second when it comes to brand equity among current owners of the company’s vehicles and has done a better job than Honda at using its image to win new buyers, Edwards said. But Toyota has been moving slower than other brands when it comes to innovation, he said.

Edwards said Toyota must be careful not to become complacent. “Everybody is looking at them and asking, ’Where are they weak?’” he said.

GM, in addition to its tie for small SUV, had segment leaders with the Chevrolet Corvette (small specialty over $25,000), the Corvette convertible (convertible over $30,000), and the Chevrolet Silverado (heavy-duty pickup).

Edwards praised GM for focusing on improving its products and taking steps to wean itself from incentives, which erode a brand’s value.
Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG’s Chrysler Group had no winners in any of the categories.

Overall, BMW AG outperformed all companies, including Honda, but because it sells only luxury vehicles and the Mini sports coupe and convertible, it is not considered a full-line automaker.
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