The auto industry has been through a lot since 2009, but it appears that consumers have a lot more confidence in the industry two years later. Brand and marketing consultancy Prophet polled 4,900 U.S. consumers about 145 Fortune 500 companies from 18 different sectors, and the numbers reveal that most automakers are more highly regarded now than in 2009.

BMW and Honda lead the pack, as both automakers ranked in the top 50 overall brands. Ford finished with a score of 60, which is up from 72. General Motors made a big leap from 123 to 85, in part because of new technology like the Chevy Volt.

Those are all good stories, but then there is Toyota. The Japanese automaker, which was saddled with the recall of over 10 million vehicles for floor mat and gas pedal issues, dropped all the way from number 18 to number 139. That number hasn't exactly resulted in horrible sales totals for Toyota, but there is little doubt that demand has softened a bit for the brand. Hit the jump to read over the press release from Prophet.
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SAN FRANCISCO (May 4, 2011) – With one notable exception, the automotive industry has come back strongly from the shaken consumer confidence and damaged reputation that resulted from the 2009 economic crisis and bailout environment, a study by strategic brand and marketing consultancy Prophet shows.

The firm's "Reputation Winners, Losers " study showed an overall jump in reputation scores from 2009 for the majority of the sector. While foreign automakers Honda and BMW remained in overall top 50 with strongest scores, the U.S. contingent saw substantial improvement despite remaining in the bottom of the overall rankings.

GM moved to the 85th spot from 123; Ford, to 60 from 72. Even Daimler saw improvement, moving to 115 from 124. "Ongoing moves by automakers to improve their products and finances seem to be paying off with renewed consumer confidence," said Prophet Partner Jeff Smith, who headed the study.

Not surprisingly, Toyota's ongoing woes with multiple product recalls caused it to fall from its leading reputation spot at 18 to a failing one at 139 – near the bottom of the 2010-2011 list.

Smith said consumers heavily weighted attributes centered on products, personal relevance, and leadership and ethical behavior, including how well companies delivered on innovation with products, services, and technologies.

With new products like the electric Chevy Volt, GM got high scores on innovation-related reputation drivers. It also helped, Smith said, that GM divested several brands to focus on improved quality and reliability of others. Consumers also gave GM points for its performance on reputation drivers related to reliable products and services.

Ford, which just reported market share gains and the highest profits in 13 years, saw high marks on product-related reputation drivers, said Smith. He attributed much of that to the new Ford Fiesta and its unique product features. Ford ranked first among all automobile companies on innovation-related reputation drivers. Its refusal of the federal bailout also likely contributed to its strong scores on qualities of leadership, transparency, and ethics.

Prophet polled 4,900 U.S. consumers about 145 Fortune 500 companies in 18 sectors, asking them to gauge overall reputation, and how well they believe companies perform on various attributes that impact reputation.

Prophet (www.prophet.com) is a strategic brand and marketing consultancy that helps its clients win by delivering inspired and actionable ideas. For further information about the study, contact Jeff Smith at jsmith@prophet.com .


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      blues4x4
      • 3 Years Ago
      Some people will never know what it's like to be with a winner. Toyota has always and still is making great products. When you are on the top you are always being shot at and eventualy you are going to get hit. When Toyota has a problem the media jumps on it with out all the info and to most people preception is realty. When Toyota has a recall it is all over and at the same time others have a recall and you have to search long and wide to find it.
        Rob
        • 3 Years Ago
        @blues4x4
        Toyota got it's nose bloodied because of the arrogance of it's executives and the effort to push everything under the carpet. They deserved the bad PR they got. Toyota and Honda do make good cars but they have let off the gas as far as customer service and keeping up with tecnology. They have also clearly cut corners in the past few years. The competition has now gotten much better so Toyota and Honda can not go on just on the past if they want to maintain market share. It is a new ball game and a level playing field now.
        pmarsha3
        • 3 Years Ago
        @blues4x4
        blues4x4, what measurement shows Toyota is "on the top"?
      longducdong
      • 3 Years Ago
      Toyota's biggest problem isnt the recalls, but rather horribly boring, ugly, vanilla cars.
        sysadm1n
        • 3 Years Ago
        @longducdong
        If Toyota is doing ok selling horribly boring, ugly, vanilla, cars, then why blame them? Purpose of a business is to make money.
          LoneWolf
          • 3 Years Ago
          @sysadm1n
          Because they could make impressive, beautiful and well-driving cars and possibly make more money, since they can adjust/change the customers demand.
          longducdong
          • 3 Years Ago
          @sysadm1n
          Did you just use the words "beautiful" and "Toyota" in the same sentence? Oh boy. I hope youre not late to your job at the library... those yoga classes really cut into the day, dont they?
          • 3 Years Ago
          @sysadm1n
          [blocked]
        Jake
        • 3 Years Ago
        @longducdong
        Yeah, no one is buying those vanilla cars like the Corolla and Camry that are always at the top of the car sales charts month after month. And those recalls aren't that big of a deal for consumers, right?
          Renaurd
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Jake
          No those recalls aren't such a big deal, that is if you don't mind getting your ass splattered against a concrete abutment.
          longducdong
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Jake
          I didnt say they didnt have a few hits on their hands, all Im saying and proving is that the masses like boring, vanilla transportation. Just like they like their cookie cutter homes... generic as generic can be. Shame, that.
        Prestige
        • 3 Years Ago
        @longducdong
        Don't you mean horribly boring, ugly, bird poop cars.
      tenspeeder
      • 3 Years Ago
      As long as the US is full of sheep who just follow the crowd and are satisfied with buying and driving a generic appliance, Toyota will continue to prosper.
      Brad
      • 3 Years Ago
      Have being an automotive mechanic for many years, I still see very little Toyota's in my shop for any substancial repairs. In seeing how many I have performed maintainence on, and the sheer amount of mileage I see on my customers cars, including my own Toyotas, I am impressed by their quality. I'm not saying other automakers do not make good cars, but a Toyota is still very well put together, and very reliable.
      billfrombuckhead
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm surprised anyone still buys a Toyota. Remember when they set their California cars 'check engine" lights to not work, that was their idea for improved emissions. Bush administration got them out of the fines. Honda did the same thing but paid the fines.
      • 3 Years Ago
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      • 3 Years Ago
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      carfan
      • 3 Years Ago
      so , will honda or nissan be next?? my bet it will be Nissan; it is the weakest and produces even worse cars than toyota. It seems that the American public is finally realizing that American cars are as good if not better than the asians at comparable prices... The design of the American cars overwhelmingly surpasses the terriblly boring looking japanese. Japanese efforts to overcome mundane designs many times do result in Joke creatures like the Juke which is really a caricature of a car, or the idiotic looking Acura, which is desperately trying to emulate ,unsuccesfully I should add, the "Art and Science" design philosophy of the CTS, by creating an automotive Frankenstein. I also believe the American consumer is more educated and sophisticated lately with the advent of the younger more educated and informed buyers...the stupid uneducated baby boomer generation that virtually caused the success of the asians are vanishing into oblivion along with their favourite japanese cars...good riddance to both!!!!
        Rob
        • 3 Years Ago
        @carfan
        For many years the american cars were inferiror when it came to quality. It has been in the last couple of years that they have really started to think global instead of trucks and SUV's. The public is waking up because the american automakers are now giving them a better package. I am happy to see the big three do well but don't blame the consumer for the missteps that were made in the past.
      icharlie
      • 3 Years Ago
      Toyota has a bunch more to blame it on than just their recalls. Now they are using that as a crutch. Toyota's entire lineup (across all 3 brands) is aging, conservative, uninspirational, and in some cases, dowdy. Nothing in either of the 3 lines says "WOW! LOOK AT ME, COME DRIVE ME, or I MAKE MORE MONEY THAN YOU (lexus)!" The entire Lexus sedan lineup was redone mostly in 06 (IS and GS) and 07 (LS and ES). Then the GS-h concept looks even more bland than the currentt GS. The SUVS don't make any sense to buy except the RX which pretty much costs $40k to step into before you add the "fun" stuff. All of what, 20 people bought an LX this year, and at almost $70k, i wonder why? What point does the v8 powered poorly packaged GX make (a question that has been lingering in my brain since 2003) as its is neither here nor there. The RIP SC430 debuted in 2001 as a 2002 model withouth much change in 10 years... Yeah, get where I'm going with this? Then Scion, who knows what the problem is there. All three new models are poor revisions of the first generation models. They are neither sporty to drive, fuel efficient, nor anything. Sure they aren't meant to be, but compared to the 1st gens (xA xB tC)...... Not only that but NOT everyone ones a dull cheaply made black interior made of "parchment paper". Finally, Toyota. The interiors suck first and formost. "cheap little hyundai" as had them beat there since they stepped their game up in 2006 and no question there. The engines are boring, the styling is forgettable, and the quality of everything is just disappointing and it has done nothing but get worse with each model since 2006. Have you seen some of the panel gaps? Be honest, you can hide people in some of those! It looks like some of them were aligned by preschoolers with a pencil. To be fair, i will give toyota big props for the most fuel efficient v6. However, everything else just plain sucks. You can only sell off "Reliable" for so long before people notice how many more competitive offerings are out there to be out for the same or LESS money. [/rant]
      • 3 Years Ago
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        Seph
        • 3 Years Ago
        Koreans are going to take over, not the americans...
          mikoprivat
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Seph
          maybe in the ethnic neighborhood where you live!!! looks like your family already moved in
      billfrombuckhead
      • 3 Years Ago
      So 2 and a half million sludge mobiles didn't exist? The endless frame recalls on their trucks that's an illusion as well? The California emissions deal didn't happen? They don't bring in "guest workers" from China and confiscate their passports? Toyota seems to get a free ride on most of their issues until it kills a state trooper. I've been in the car business 30 years now and Toyota always been the scummiest car company. 30 years ago, when the Southeast Toyota rep would come to visit your dealership, the owner needed to have an envelope full of cash and some hookers or all you got were beige trucks and Tercels without a/c on your next allocation. Check out the history of Southeast Toyota, it's quite revealing of the character of the Toyota company.
      sckid213
      • 3 Years Ago
      I have a number of thoughts on Toyota's fall from grace, but will try to keep this concise: - Toyota enjoyed a near rock-star level of goodwill from consumers, similar to what Apple is enjoying now. But Apple's products are the best (or damn close). Toyota's never were, people just thought so. And the competition closed in fast. The recalls made people take a look around and realize Toyota is in fact not necessarily the best. - To the younger generation, Toyotas are what their parents drove and are what old people drive. They make no products that appeal to youth. Scion hasn't made up for the discrepancy. - Rather than go into overdrive in response to the recalls, Toyota sh*ts out a barely new Corolla, a Sienna with a cheapened interior, etc. They're resting on their laurels at a time when they shouldn't be. It's like their goal is to follow in the exact footsteps of the old D3, including being the cause of their own death.
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