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Auto Buzz Do Consumers Trust The Govt. At The Wheel
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Auto Buzz Do Consumers Trust The Govt. At The Wheel

Jennifer Volz, Nielsen Online

Consumer reactions to recent government moves toward U.S. automakers GM and Chrysler range from skeptical to supportive, based on Nielsen Online’s analysis of Internet consumer buzz.

The Obama Administration’s weekend request for GM CEO Rick Wagoner’s resignation is merely “symbolic” for some consumers, contributing to their belief that Wagoner is being made a “scapegoat.”

Despite the President’s assurances that the federal government has no intention of running an automotive company, consumers remain concerned about the future of American capitalism and what some perceive as a shift toward socialism. Yet, some consumers agree that the government has a right to take these actions given that automakers asked for government-backed bridge loans and taxpayer support.

These recent developments have created significant Internet buzz since March 30th, surpassing discussion levels from mid-February related to the submission of restructuring/viability plans from GM and Chrysler.

GM, Chrysler and Government Loan Situation Buzz (January 1 – March 30, 2009)

Given the skepticism toward the government’s involvement in Wagoner’s resignation, what do consumers think about the President’s announcement of a government-backed Warranty Commitment Program for domestic automakers to bolster consumer confidence? Nearly half of immediate consumer responses to the Warranty Commitment Program are negative, influenced heavily by concerns about government involvement in the automotive sector. Consumers do not trust the government’s ability to manage the program and fear this level of regulation erodes the basic principals of capitalism, a sentiment that overshadows the intended impact of the program.

Consumer Sentiment within Warranty Commitment Program Buzz

(Sample of 100 Comments from March 29-30, 2009)

Buzz has been rapidly evolving over the past few days. No doubt online consumers will continue to discuss unfolding events while the clock ticks for GM and Chrysler.

However, 20% of consumers do respond favorably to the warranty program, saying that it improves their perceptions of GM and Chrysler products or that the program accurately addresses a concern for prospective buyers. This includes prospective owners who say the program has a positive impact on their consideration to buy a GM or Chrysler product.

Topic Discussion within Warranty Commitment Program Buzz

(Sample of 100 Comments from March 29-30, 2009)

Buzz has been rapidly evolving over the past few days. No doubt online consumers will continue to discuss unfolding events while the clock ticks for GM and Chrysler.

*Scott Hamm also contributed to this analysis