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JD Power and Associates got its start many years ago by talking to consumers about automobile quality, but the company has branched out considerably since then. Its latest study, issued this week by the Web Intelligence Division, looks at how car brands are perceived for their environmental sustainability. The answers should concern most auto execs—even those at some brands you might expect to do well.
Studies on this topic as recently as last year, said JD Power’s Averill Doering, just looked at the question, “Is there an issue around how people view a brand’s image of sustainability?” This year, he said, the conversation has moved on. Power’s clients now ask, “What can I do about it?”
To get its ratings, the company looked at a staggering 40 million blog posts over six months on topics like environmental sustainability and global warming. Then they rated brands on perpendicular axes: one for the number of posts, the other for the sentiment expressed in each posts.
The best category, “Pacesetters,” contained the usual suspects, more or less. Toyota had the highest volume, followed by GM, and then Honda—though Toyota was actually viewed less positively than GM, which itself only took a silver for in the popularity contest to Honda’s gold. Doering attributed Toyota’s weaker likeability to a “Prius backlash” its readers observed in the blogs they surveyed.
The interesting point here is that GM isn’t actually a brand. But clearly its corporate efforts around the Chevrolet Volt, its various hybrids (from the Malibu, Aura, and Vue hybrids to the Tahoe and Yukon Two-Mode Hybrids,) its forays into biofuels, and even its “Project Driveway” fuel-cell vehicle programs, all seem to have made a lasting impression.