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Marketplace

Why people are still buying GM cars post-recall

Kate Davidson May 21, 2014
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The latest recall from General Motors came Wednesday. It was for a couple hundred thousand subcompact Chevrolet Aveos. That’s on top of a couple million cars and trucks recalled Tuesday. And, of course, that was on top of the big recall over ignition defects that were linked to 13 deaths. 

So far, GM has recalled almost 14 million vehicles this year, according to the company. But it’s not slowing interest among people shopping for new GM cars, at least according to traffic on the car shopping site Edmunds.com.

Does the recall not matter? The site’s consumer advice editor, Carroll Lachnit, notes their traffic only reflects new car shoppers, and some of GM’s recalled vehicles aren’t sold new anymore. And there’s a question of branding: “In the majority of cases, the cars that people are looking at don’t have the name GM on them,” she says. “They’re Chevrolets, they’re Buicks.”

Robert Passikoff of the group Brand Keys says GM’s brand loyalty had been edging back after quality issues and the hit of bankruptcy, but it still isn’t great. Passikoff recently surveyed the reaction of GM car owners who’ve had vehicles recalled.

And they were of course negative, but they were three times as large as brands where loyalty was high,” he says.

In other words, less loyalty going into a recall meant more unhappiness coming out. Passikoff says that will show up in GM sales down the line. 

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