Americans love their right to choose and they are choosing import vehicles. For the first time since 1906, neither Ford (NYSE:F) nor Chevrolet topped the automotive sales charts; Toyota (NYSE:TM) took the lead.
As domestic auto manufacturers lose market share to foreign competition, are they also losing consumer interest?
Looking at visits to both domestic and import OEM websites in April 2007, there is a nearly even split in interest between these two groups. At a state level, however, this same metric indicates where this interest truly lies - and it’s not evenly dispersed.
The chart below shows traffic to automotive manufacturers’ sites.
Domestic sites are sill getting a higher share of visits from much of the US – and whether it’s related or not, more politically conservative states lean domestic.
Despite Toyota’s $1.28 billion plant in Texas, the state is loyal to American cars. Additionally, the skew towards Domestic OEMs has grown year of year, with a 3.5% increase in domestic OEMs’ share of automotive sessions. Michigan, the heart of American Auto Manufacturing, visit Domestic sites at a much greater rate than Import OEM sites. Strict on emissions, California leans heavily towards Import OEM sites.
Domestic sites are still getting attention but are they engaging customers when they get them there? The answer when looking at average stay is yes, but so are the import sites. When looking at the top five brands over the last 13 months Chevrolet has consistently led the way in length of stay, but Honda (NYSE:HMC) and Toyota have never been far behind.
Though import auto makers are grabbing market share, at least online, domestic OEMs are still part of the consideration process. With so many “red” states leaning towards American cars, maybe political campaigns are the answer to American auto makers’ sales dilemma.