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With sales forming the heart of the business and often being the most-watched metric by investors, consumers have the final say in determining how well automakers do. This makes consumers’ perceptions about a company’s brand tremendously valuable, and car makers spend large amounts of money responding to the nebulous whims of the customer.
Toyota (NYSE:TM) reported on January 28 that it sold 9,747,762 vehicles in 2012, an annual growth of 22.6 percent. This makes the company the largest seller of cars in the world, edging out General Motors (NYSE:GM), which took the crown in 2011. This is in no small part due to the incredible value of Toyota’s brand, which has consistently ranked as the highest among automakers.
Even in the United States, the Toyota brand tops American car makers such as GM and Ford (NYSE:F). According to a recent survey from Consumer Reports, which tracks consumer perceptions of top auto brands, Toyota came out a clear winner. The report ranks each brand by their aggregate score in seven categories: quality, safety, value, performance, design/style, technology/innovation, and environmentally friendly/green. Each category is weighted for its importance to the consumer, with quality and safety being by far the most-important categories.
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