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Imports Versus Domestics - US - May 2010

This report explores the import and domestic automotive market in the US. It provides insight into the external and internal factors affecting import and domestic automotive and truck sales, consumption and trends, and what they mean for future sales, promotional campaigns and industry innovations. Specific questions that are answered in this report include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • What automakers dominate the US market and how has market share shifted in recent years?
  • What is the US market share of foreign companies and Detroit’s Big Three?
  • What models cars are typical of imports and which ones are typical of domestics?
  • What car characteristics and attributes are important to import owners and how are they different from domestic owners?
  • What are domestic owners interested in purchasing in the aftermarket and how is this different or the same from import owners?
  • How has the Toyota 2009-10 recall crisis affected the market share of that company and foreign automakers in general?
  • How are domestic automakers responding to consumer needs and how are those actions affecting the competition from foreign-owned companies?
  • How much do consumers spend on the purchase of an import or domestic vehicle?
  • How consolidation and recent bankruptcies has blurred the lines between defining a domestic vehicle versus an import?
  • What companies are innovating their segments, and how can others learn from their success?
  • What media are industry leaders using to deliver effective marketing campaigns, and what actions need to be taken to improve visibility?

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

    • What you need to know
      • Definition
        • Data sources
          • Sales data
            • Consumer survey data
              • Advertising creative
                • Abbreviations and terms
                  • Abbreviations
                    • Terms
                    • Executive Summary

                      • Import automakers dominate U.S. total new vehicle sales, starting in 2008
                        • Domestic companies dominate new unit truck sales, imports dominate cars
                          • Imports continue to dominate domestics in market share in early 2010
                            • Consumers purchasing imports, domestics evenly
                              • Consumers choosing General Motors first, replacing Toyota with Ford
                                • Domestics considered more affordable; imports more aesthetically pleasing
                                  • Women appreciate imports more than men for their aesthetic qualities
                                    • Age divide over luxury: Older respondents prefer domestics
                                      • Domestics challenged to change young buyer perceptions
                                        • Preference for imports starts when households earn $50K and up
                                          • Good for America: The overwhelming buyer perception of domestics
                                            • Buyers consider import vehicles more expensive than domestics
                                              • China’s booming auto market may benefit non-Chinese automakers
                                              • Insights and Opportunities

                                                • Guided plant tours can emphasize commitment to community
                                                  • One price selling helps move cars faster, ensures customer value
                                                    • Restructuring websites for Google referrals will increase traffic
                                                    • Inspire Insights

                                                        • Trend: Brand USA
                                                          • Does Brand USA hold the same authority it once did?
                                                            • “New patriotism” on the horizon for selling cars?
                                                              • Redefining Brand USA to sell cars now
                                                              • Market Size

                                                                • Key points
                                                                  • Import automakers dominate new car and truck market in the U.S.
                                                                      • Figure 1: Total U.S. unit car and truck sales, by domestic and import, 2003-09
                                                                      • Figure 2: Total U.S. unit car and truck sales, by domestic and import, share of sales and indexed change, 2003-09
                                                                    • U.S. car sales: Import automakers dominate market
                                                                        • Figure 3: Total U.S. car unit sales, domestics and imports 2003-09
                                                                        • Figure 4: Total U.S. car unit sales, domestics and imports, share of sales and indexed change, 2003-09
                                                                      • U.S. truck sales: Domestic automakers dominate market
                                                                        • Figure 5: Total U.S. truck unit sales, domestics and imports 2003-09
                                                                        • Figure 6: Total U.S. truck unit sales, domestics and imports, share of sales and indexed change, 2003-09
                                                                    • Segment Performance

                                                                      • Key points
                                                                        • Imports continue to dominate domestics in market share in early 2010
                                                                            • Figure 7: U.S. unit sales of cars and light trucks, by manufacturer, January-April, 2009 and 2010
                                                                        • Segment Performance—Domestics

                                                                          • Key points
                                                                            • Trucks selling more than cars, although gap separating both is shrinking
                                                                                • Figure 8: Total U.S. unit car and truck sales by domestic automakers, 2003-09
                                                                                • Figure 9: Total U.S. unit car and truck sales by domestic automakers, share of sales and indexed change, 2003-09
                                                                            • Segment Performance—Imports

                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                • Import automakers increase market share at expense of domestics
                                                                                  • Figure 10: U.S. unit sales of import and domestic cars and trucks, by country of origin, 2007 and 2009*
                                                                                • Cars, not trucks, drive import sales—which helped importers in recession
                                                                                    • Figure 11: Total U.S. unit car and truck sales by import automakers, 2003-09 *
                                                                                    • Figure 12: Total U.S. unit car and truck sales by import automakers, share of sales and indexed change, 2003-09
                                                                                • Imports Vs. Domestics: What People Are Driving Now

                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                    • The divide between imports, domestics becoming less distinct
                                                                                      • General Motors rules U.S. market, Toyota becomes third to Ford
                                                                                        • Figure 13: Vehicle brands driven most often, by imports and domestics, January 2010
                                                                                      • Domestic and import owners driving four-door sedans the most
                                                                                        • Figure 14: Vehicle models driven most often, by imports and domestics, January 2010
                                                                                    • Import Brands Vs. Domestic Brands: What People Want to Purchase Next

                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                        • General Motors, Toyota, Ford the top most desired vehicles
                                                                                          • Figure 15: Vehicle brands consumers want to purchase next, by imports and domestics, January 2010
                                                                                      • Market Drivers

                                                                                        • China’s booming auto market providing growth for non-Chinese players
                                                                                          • General Motors expects sales in China to exceed U.S. sales in 2011
                                                                                            • Ford tests “Fiesta Movement” in China before bringing it to the U.S.
                                                                                              • Recalls by top automotive manufacturers hurt public confidence in industry
                                                                                                • Cut-rate financing, shorter loan terms trending to help drive up sales
                                                                                                  • Obama administration raises fuel economy standards 40% for new cars
                                                                                                      • Figure 16: Average fuel economy required under federal clean car standards, by vehicle, 2011-16
                                                                                                  • Leading Companies — Domestics

                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                      • Ford gains market share, although General Motors remains domestic leader
                                                                                                        • Figure 17: U.S. unit sales of domestic cars and trucks, by company, 2007 and 2009
                                                                                                      • General Motors: Returning from bankruptcy to test coming Volt
                                                                                                        • North American General Motors sales fell 35% in 2009
                                                                                                          • Figure 18: General Motors total North America automotive sales revenue, 2006-09
                                                                                                          • Figure 19: General Motors North America vehicle unit car sales, 2006-09
                                                                                                        • Ford Motor Company: Gaining market share through recession
                                                                                                          • Ford revenues drop nearly 24% in 2008 from previous year
                                                                                                            • Figure 20: Ford total North America automotive sales revenue, 2006-09
                                                                                                            • Figure 21: Ford U.S. vehicle unit car sales, 2005-09
                                                                                                          • Chrysler: Struggling to re-freshen stale brands
                                                                                                              • Figure 22: Chrysler U.S. vehicle unit sales, 2005-09
                                                                                                          • Leading Companies—Imports

                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                              • Toyota is the top import automaker; Hyundai-Kia gains market share
                                                                                                                • Figure 23: U.S. unit sales of import cars and trucks, by company, 2007 and 2009*
                                                                                                              • Toyota Motor Co.
                                                                                                                • Toyota’s unit car sales in U.S. dropped almost 20% from one year prior
                                                                                                                  • Figure 24: Toyota motor U.S. vehicle unit sales, 2005-09
                                                                                                                • Honda Motor Co.
                                                                                                                  • Competing against Toyota’s Prius with the Insight
                                                                                                                    • Honda’s unit car sales in U.S. dropped about 20% in 2009
                                                                                                                      • Figure 25: Honda’s U.S. vehicle unit sales, 2005-09
                                                                                                                    • Nissan Motor Co.
                                                                                                                      • Nissan planning to mass-market electric cars
                                                                                                                        • Unit car sales in U.S. dropped 13% in 2009 compared to one year prior
                                                                                                                          • Figure 26: Nissan North America’s U.S. vehicle unit sales, 2005-09
                                                                                                                        • Hyundai Motor Co.
                                                                                                                          • Figure 27: Hyundai U.S. vehicle unit sales, 2005-09
                                                                                                                      • Brand Qualities

                                                                                                                        • Ford shifts conversation about quality from imports to domestics
                                                                                                                          • Hyundai also gaining recognition from Toyota’s recall difficulties
                                                                                                                            • Other companies build their brands through targeting Toyota owners with incentives
                                                                                                                              • Alfa Romeo’s U.S. launch indicative of domestic-import partnership
                                                                                                                              • Innovation and Innovators

                                                                                                                                • Power flat financing less risk to dealers, more incentive to sell aftermarket
                                                                                                                                  • Dealership uses in-house video production to create news channel
                                                                                                                                    • Ford testing the feasibility of accessing smart phone apps in cars
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 28: Top ten driver distractions, 2010
                                                                                                                                      • Niche brand unknown in Sun Belt gets traction through creative marketing
                                                                                                                                      • Advertising and Promotion

                                                                                                                                        • Automakers cutting back on diversity marketing, starting in 2009
                                                                                                                                          • Automakers spending more on local broadcast starting in 2010
                                                                                                                                            • Social media
                                                                                                                                              • Domestics
                                                                                                                                                • Imports
                                                                                                                                                  • Broadcast media
                                                                                                                                                    • Toyota’s recall crisis: tempering the storm and creating new opportunities
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 29: Toyota ad, working to rebuild faith, 2010
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 30: Toyota ad, Katie Wurst's daughter wants their Toyota, 2010
                                                                                                                                                    • Foreign automakers emphasize their contribution to U.S. economy
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 31: Toyota ad, over 16 million cars built in the U.S., 2010
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 32: Hyundai ad, employees in Alabama carry car, 2010
                                                                                                                                                    • Ford tries to claim ownership of quality over imports Toyota, Honda
                                                                                                                                                      • Figure 33: Ford ad, quality that can't be beat by Honda or Toyota, 2010
                                                                                                                                                  • Patriotism: Is It A Factor In New Car Purchasing?

                                                                                                                                                    • Key points
                                                                                                                                                      • Half of respondents are concerned about fuel efficiency when buying
                                                                                                                                                        • What it means
                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 34: Patriotism views regarding new car purchasing, by gender, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                        • All age groups more vested in fuel economy than patriotism
                                                                                                                                                          • What it means
                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 35: Patriotism views regarding new car purchasing, by age, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                          • Lower-earning households more swayed by patriotism than higher earners
                                                                                                                                                            • What it means
                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 36: Patriotism views regarding new car purchasing, by household income, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                          • Imports Vs. Domestics: Consumer Perceptions

                                                                                                                                                            • Key points
                                                                                                                                                              • Domestics considered more affordable; imports more aesthetically pleasing
                                                                                                                                                                • What it means
                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 37: Consumer perceptions towards imports and domestics, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                • Consumer Perception of Imports

                                                                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                    • Women appreciate imports more than men for their aesthetic qualities
                                                                                                                                                                      • What it means
                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 38: Consumer perceptions towards imports, by gender, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                        • Respondents aged 65+ least likely to perceive imports for aesthetic charm
                                                                                                                                                                          • What it means
                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 39: Consumer perceptions towards imports, by age, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                            • Imports most likely to be perceived as sleek, innovative by top earners
                                                                                                                                                                              • What it means
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 40: Consumer perceptions towards imports, by household income, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                              • Consumer Perception of Domestics

                                                                                                                                                                                • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Good for America dominating perception of domestic vehicles
                                                                                                                                                                                    • What it means
                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 41: Consumer perceptions towards domestics, by gender, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Youngest respondents least likely to consider domestics innovative
                                                                                                                                                                                        • What this means
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Figure 42: Consumer perceptions towards domestics, by age, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Imports Vs. Domestics: Consumer Spend on Each

                                                                                                                                                                                        • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                                          • Majority of total respondents likely buying new in the $20K-$29K range
                                                                                                                                                                                            • What it means
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 43: Consumer spend on vehicle purchase or lease, by import and domestic owners, April 2008-June 2009
                                                                                                                                                                                            • Imports Vs. Domestics: Options Purchased For Each

                                                                                                                                                                                              • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Import owners purchasing options or cars outfitted with options related to practicality, safety
                                                                                                                                                                                                  • What it means
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 44: Most recently acquired features, by import and domestic owners, April 2008-June 2009
                                                                                                                                                                                                • Imports Vs. Domestics: Incentives Influencing Purchasing

                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Test drives rule incentives in purchasing, but consumers want deals
                                                                                                                                                                                                      • What it means
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Figure 45: Incentives influencing purchasing, by import owners and domestic owners, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Imports Vs. Domestics: Components Influencing Purchasing

                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Import, domestic vehicle owners both concerned about price
                                                                                                                                                                                                          • What it means
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Figure 46: Components influencing new vehicle purchasing, by import and domestic vehicle owners, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Impact of Race and Hispanic Origin

                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Key points
                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Patriotism least effective for Asian respondents who likely prefer imports
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • What it means
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 47: Patriotism views regarding new car purchasing, by hispanic origin, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Asian respondents lead groups in perceiving imports as innovative
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • What it means
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 48: Consumer perceptions towards imports, by race and hispanic origin, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Asians, Hispanics, least likely to perceive domestics as innovative
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • What it means
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Figure 49: Consumer perceptions towards domestics, by race and hispanic origin, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Cluster Analysis

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Positives
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Demographics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Domesticators
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Demographics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Importers
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Demographics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Characteristics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Opportunity
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Cluster characteristics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 50: Imports vs. domestics clusters, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 51: Attributes associated with imports, by imports vs. domestics clusters, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 52: Attributes associated with domestics, by imports vs. domestics clusters, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 53: Patriotic attitudes, by imports vs. domestics clusters, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Cluster demographics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 54: Imports vs. domestics clusters, by gender, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 55: Imports vs. domestics clusters, by age group, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 56: Imports vs. domestics clusters, by household income group, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 57: Imports vs. domestics clusters, by race, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Figure 58: Imports vs. domestics clusters, by Hispanic origin, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Cluster methodology
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Appendix: Other Useful Consumer Tables

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Perceptions regarding domestic vehicles and household income
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Figure 59: Consumer perceptions towards domestics, by household income, January 2010
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Appendix: Trade Associations

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Companies Covered

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Alliance Of Automobile Manufacturers, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • American Petroleum Institute (API)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Audi of America Inc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Automotive Aftermarket Industry Association
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Automotive Oil Change Association (AOCA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Automotive Trade Association Executives (ATAE)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Chrysler LLC
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Connected Vehicle Trade Association (CVA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Consumer Electronics Association
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Facebook, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Ford Motor Company (USA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Google, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Greenfield Online
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Hyundai Motor America
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Land Rover North America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • LinkedIn
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Mazda North American Operations
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Mercedes-Benz USA
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Mitsubishi Motors North America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • National Independent Automobile Dealership Association (NIADA)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Nissan North America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Toyota Motor Corporation USA
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Twitter, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • U.S. Department of Transportation
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Volkswagen of America, Inc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Yahoo! Inc
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • YouTube, Inc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Imports Versus Domestics - US - May 2010

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