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Study: Asian Auto Brands Pulling Ahead

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ANN ARBOR (WWJ) – The fledgling recovery of U.S. carmakers could be in jeopardy.

A new report from the American Customer Satisfaction Index shows that Toyota and Lexus have retaken the lead, with Cadillac in tow, Chrysler slumping and Lincoln and Buick in reverse.

Study author David VanAmburg says Toyota owners seem to have put the concerns of last year behind them.

“Both the Toyota and the Lexus name plates, there’s been a rebound from all of their recall woes from a year to a year-and-a-half ago,” he said.

VanAmburg said Volkswagen also saw significant improvement, while BMW fell.

Still, VanAmburg says if you look at things historically the domestic brands have made big gains.

“The performance of the domestics 2009 through 2011 is well, well ahead of what we were seeing in the earlier part of the last decade,” VanAmburg.

Chrysler finished well behind Ford and General Motors in the study, but WWJ AutoBeat Reporter Jeff Gilbert says the study was completed well before many of the new Chrysler products hit the market.

University of Michigan businesses professor Claes Fornell says the road will get even rougher with Japanese carmakers offering buyer incentives.

“Both Honda and Toyota are discounting to a degree that I don’t think I’ve seen before,” Fornell told WWJ Newsradio 950.

“That will create some difficulty for all competitors, but for the domestic brands in particular,” adding that the Big Three will probably have no choice but to respond in kind.

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