Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen and Audi have had hot hands lately in terms of strong vehicle introductions, rising brand strength, and market-share conquests in the United States. And in the view of executives at automakers and top-tier suppliers in the U.S. market, those four brands — and two companies — have the best chance of adding to their share gains in the next five years of any marques in the industry.
In fact, the consensus of the 200 executives interviewed recently by Booz & Co., the consulting firm, wasn't even close: 78 percent of them figured Hyundai and Kia, which are owned by the same Korean chaebol, was most likely to pick up share, and 72 percent of them tabbed VW and Audi, owned by Volkswagen AG.
The two companies were far ahead of all other automakers in the poll. Ford, with 38 percent; BMW/Mini, 31 percent; Toyota/Lexus and Chrysler/Dodge/Fiat, 28 percent, were the next finishers.
"Both [companies] are rising from relatively small positions, so the responses didn't really surprise us; the only way they could really go is up," Scott Corwin, New York-based partner for Booz, told brandchannel. "Whereas you saw after the tsunami, the Japanese manufacturers were in a spot where they had to defend their positions."
Booz's survey captured a "snapshot in time," Corwin allowed, rather than a sober-minded analysis of future prospects of brands. In that sense, it likely strongly reflected executives' opinions based on the recent past of auto brands more than a hard reflection on future prospects.
That's why heady hopes for the four leading brands weren't much of a surprise; each has gobbled up share lately from other brands, especially the vulnerable Japanese — but, lately, Ford and GM as well.
One poor showing especially surprised Corwin, however: Nissan's. It finished second-to-last in execs' prognostications about share growth, with only 13 percent believing that Nissan is likely to acquire U.S. share in the next five years.
"They've done an unbelievable job of refreshing their product portfolio," Corwin said.
Booz's survey — which also included executives' responses to a range of other questions — didn't ask last year about market share. But with a string of new-product introductions this year beginning with the new Altima, recently touted at the New York International Auto Show, Nissan is likely to show up much better in next year's snapshot.