Do Most Car Shoppers Believe in 'New' General Motors?

Aug 01, 2014 12:40 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

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In a new study, KBB.com has found that 50 percent of all new-car shoppers think GM is a different company today compared to five years ago, while just 24 percent of new-car shoppers believe the "old" GM still exists.

"Despite challenges with the recall announcements, General Motors CEO Mary Barra has successfully positioned the brand in a positive light, as evidenced by Kelley Blue Book's survey results showing half of new-car shoppers think GM has changed in recent years," said Tony Lim, director of research for Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com, according to a company release. "By reinforcing the message of the 'new' GM and distancing itself from the 'old,' Barra can continue to effectively distinguish the company from its past."

The survey data also revealed over a quarter of new-car shoppers believe GM is being proactive and "transparent" in their handling of the recalls.

"GM initiated the ignition switch recall versus having it ordered by the government, and the company's proactive stance taken in the areas of vehicle safety oversight and victim compensation has enhanced the automaker's image despite the high number of recalled models," said Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com, according to the release. "GM is suggesting to consumers it is more transparent about quality and the safety of its owners."

U.S. car buyers are still questioning GM's product quality however.

The survey indicated "mixed" feelings when it comes to the automaker's ability to make more reliable vehicles today compared to five years ago.

Just 39 percent of all surveyed new-car shoppers believe that GM's current products are more reliable compared to five years ago, according to the study.

"High-profile recalls will put pressure on views of quality and reliability for any brand, and while many consumers think GM is a different company today, inevitably perceptions of product unreliability still exist," said Lim. "GM can overcome these challenges and change perceptions by focusing efforts on new-vehicle launches and commitment to innovative in-vehicle technology."

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