By Jeff Gilbert

TRAVERSE CITY — (WWJ) Car buyers are about to see more new choices than ever before.

INTERVIEW: Polk’s Anthony Pratt talks to WWJ’s Jeff Gilbert.

“By 2013, we expect there could be as many as 121 new launches, if you include new versions, new introductions and full updates of vehicles,” said Anthony Pratt, forecasting director at Polk Americas. “That’s a lot of new vehicles coming into the market.”

General Motors, for example, is expected to update 70 percent of its lineup over the next two years.

INTERVIEW: Polk’s Anthony Pratt talks to WWJ’s Jeff Gilbert

“We’re now in the early days of one of the biggest global product offensive in GM history,” said Alicia Boler Davis, GM’s Vice President of Global Quality. “The impact of these new vehicles will be felt around the world, and nowhere more than right here in the United States.”

One of the most important launches is the all new versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. GM’s full size pickups are among the oldest on the market.

The new products come, says Boler Davis as GM works to improve quality.

“It’s not just about getting our vehicles built right,” she says. “It’s about getting everything right. From the way we design them, to the way we engineer them and manufacture them.”

As the overall quality of vehicles improves, Speakers at the Management Briefing Seminars say that the definition of quality changes in consumer minds.

Polk Analyst Tom Libby says recalls can hurt a car company’s image. But they can also help.

“It also acts as away for a brand to actually to differentiate themselves positively, if they address the problems in a very pro-active way,” he said. “We actually saw that recently with Toyota where they obviously had issues with recalls. But they were very proactive with their customers—reached out to their customers–and they really turned that around.”

Toyota has seen a lot of growth this year. While they have captured market share lost from last year’s earthquake and tsunami, they’ve not yet returned to the share they had before the recalls.

Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz says that’s because the landscape today is more competitive than it was a few years ago. But, Toyota isn’t standing still.

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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