YONKERS, N.Y. — Nearly half of Americans (48 percent) reported that they will wait longer before their next vehicle purchase, according to the results of Consumer Reports’ 2009 Auto Brand Perception Survey.
The weak economy is forcing consumers to assess the value of their current vehicle. The number one reason people delayed purchase is that their vehicle is in good shape (39 percent). The other top reasons are: vehicles have become too expensive (30 percent), general concern for the weak economy (30 percent), consumers are waiting for fuel-saving technologies like hybrids to become more affordable (18 percent), and interest rates for vehicle financing are too high (18 percent).
Delaying a car purchase is more apparent in lower-income households, where difficulty in obtaining financing is an issue for nearly a quarter of those respondents (24 percent).
"Car owners are considering the real costs and risks in buying a new model, emphasizing needs over wants," said Jeff Bartlett, deputy online automotive editor, Consumer Reports. "The shift in behavior comes at a time when the economy has put jobs and household budgets in peril. And for those looking to buy, the finance crunch has made it more difficult to secure a loan. These factors have pushed consumers to change priorities and have influenced brand perceptions."
The survey asked which brands consumers thought were the leader in each of seven categories: Design/Style, Performance, Quality, Environmental Friendly/Green, Safety, Technology/Innovation, and Value. In rank order, Toyota, Honda, Ford, Cadillac, and Mercedes-Benz dominated overall scores for brand perception.
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