As U.S. consumers become more conscious about getting value for their money, the market for compact cars and family sedans seems to have shifted away from Honda and Toyota and now favors Hyundai.
For a long time, the Corolla, Camry, Civic and Accord vehicles were the top-sellers in this segment. One example of such a defection is Stephen Ragsdale who went from being a loyal Honda car owner to being a pleased Kia aficionado.
He had bought a 2009 Accord but after seeing his mom’s Kia Optima, he wanted one just like it. It featured heated rear seats, cooled front seats and a larger video screen for his navigation system and he even got to save $40 a month.
In addition, he traded in a 2003 Honda CR-V compact sport- utility vehicle for a Kia Soul wagon. He explained that Honda has “fallen behind when it comes to how the car works” and that Honda’s only advantage is its better resale value.
Eric Noble, the president of consulting firm, the CarLab, said that the shift had started before the earthquake-related production shortages had even taken place. Noble said that the two companies are “losing ground” since their products weren’t competitive in key segments for the past 5 years.
He believes that the current inventory shortages will prompt a drastic change in shopping that would have occurred in another generation yet. Noble added that Toyota has yet to gain back the trust of consumers after its recall crisis. Meanwhile, he thinks that Honda fell behind in terms of styling, innovation, and luxury.