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Lancia, Plymouth, and Chrysler quality:
Allpar vs the general public (2016)

For years, Lancia lovers, Plymouth people, and Chrysler cousins have all been making assertions about how people see their favored brands. Allpar has added some data by surveying 162 people from the general United States car-buying public, using Google Consumer Surveys. Later, we surveyed 250 Allpar readers.

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Cost limited the number of questions, so we didn't get comparative information (e.g. asking about Chevrolet) from the general public. We also did not buy many general-public surveys; having more would likely have increased the number of statistically significant differences, though the data shouldn't be much different.

First, let's look at Lancia, a storied company purchased some years ago by Fiat. Some have insisted that even in the United States, Lancia is known and loved, and should have gotten more attention than Alfa Romeo or even the Chrylser brand. How does the data work out?


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Well, the good news is, not many people have unfavorable opinions. The bad news is that over 80% of Americans surveyed had no clue what it was. Around 7% remembered it with no opinions. Just 7% of Americans had some favorable opinions, and 4% had unfavorable opinions. This would require one heck of a launch.

The details: Men were more barely likely to recall Lancia (not significant). Age wasn't really a factor except that people over 65 were more likely to remember Lancia. Nobody with an income over $150,000 - the target buyers! - remembered Lancia.

Looking just at Allpar readers, We got different, but still unfavorable, results.

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The vast majority still have no idea what Lancia is all about, but now around a third of people have favorable memories. That is worth remembering when reading forum debates about the viability of Lancia in the US: the group that's active at Allpar is not representative of US buyers.

Now, how about Plymouth? Get ready...


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Here we have much better name recognition but also much greater market rejection. Yes, one third of Americans would definitely not buy a Plymouth and about a third would probably not buy one, leaving 23% for maybes and 3% for definitely. 7% didn't even recognize it. Men were twice as likely to reject Plymouth as women.

Most of the lack of recognition came from people 18-24 years old (not surprising). The "definitely would" votes are all from people 35-64 years old. Those who were over 65, though, mostly voted "maybe." Higher income people were less likely to recognize Plymouth and more likely to say "definitely not."

Are Allpar readers any different? Absolutely! This too should be kept in mind when reading debates on Allpar: our readers are far more receptive to Plymouth than the general American public.

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How does that compare with Chrysler, you may ask?

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A softer Ouch!

This is where we begin to regret asking questions. Again, one third of respondents would definitely not buy a Chrysler car or SUV. Over a quarter would probably not consider it, leaving one third to say "maybe" and just 8% saying "definitely." This is where we really begin to wish that we had gotten comparison numbers.

Men were somewhat more likely to reject Chrysler outright; men and women had almost identical rates of saying "definitely." Younger buyers (18-24) and 45-54-year-olds were less likely to rule Chrysler out. Those age 45-54 were more likely to say "maybe." Going to income, those earning $100,000-$149,000 were more likely to rule Chrysler out.

Do you want to see a big but not unsurpricing difference? Look at Allpar readers...

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Now we combine two makes and ask the quality of Chrysler and Dodge cars and SUVs and hope the results mean something.

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Among Allpar readers, not surprisingly, the results are far more favorable. Only 8% find quality to be poor or very poor. Sadly, 23% find it to be middling, but over a quarter find it very high.

This is an interesting result, since the various surveys and quality reports tend to have Chrysler and Dodge pretty low, and yet randomly chosen Americans generally went for the middle of the scale. (Only the two extremes were marked). We only had 150 responses for this one, too, indicating that people were not entirely comfortable judging, which is good for Chrysler and Dodge.

Of note, the "very high" group is quite small, but so is the "very poor" group - surprisingly so given the things some writers say about Chrysler in particular. "3" (unlabelled) was statistically the winner and you can see it's by a good margin, with nearly half the people reporting. Overall, the good area (4+5) has about as many people as the bad area (1+2) but they're less evenly spread out. Hmmm... We couldn't find meaningful differences by age, gender, or income.

We don't really need a larger sample. If the differences in reality are large enough, the results come out just fine in a survey; we can say that in 95 samples out of 100, the results would be similar. Adding people would have made the "error bars" smaller but the results are similarly valid. That said, we did not test people who do not use computers and possibly left out people who have active ad-blockers.There are some disclaimers. This was not as scientifically rigorous a survey as we'd have liked. The response rate neared 20% (which is good for nontargeted customer surveys) and, in a perfect world, we would follow up a few times to try to bump that up above 50%, and test to see whether recalcitrant respondents had different opinions. We would ideally have more questions to dive into the data, e.g., if we briefly explained what a Lancia or Plymouth was, would that change things? If we brought up the best of their past? If we suggested what part of the market they'd compete in, would that help? Opinions can be formed or changed, to a degree, by marketing and advertising. For Chrysler and Dodge quality, we obviously lumped two brands and ranges of vehicle together, and didn't get any competitive comparisons. Comparing the desirability of Chrysler and Plymouth directly, using our questions, has a little "gotcha" since Plymouth also has the "what is it?" choice, without which there would likely be more "maybes."

Still, the people have spoken, and they say:

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    What's a Lancia?
  • We would probably not buy a Plymouth (readers say "maybe")
  • We might consider a Chrysler (readers probably will)
  • Chrysler-Dodge quality is middlin' (readers say, "kinda-good")

It may not be the best news, but hopefully we can solve a few arguments with it.

The next survey: Chrysler and Dodge vs Chevrolet and Buick

Allpar readers tend to have more favorable opinions of Chrysler and Fiat brands than the general public, but we were curious to see how readers felt about Chrysler and Dodge, comparing them to Buick and Chevrolet as a sort of control.

We used the same set of "which words are related to..." options for the Chrysler, Dodge, and Buick brands. You can see in the chart above that most Allpar readers hit the desired elements for Chrysler. This is likely the view taken by brand leaders, as well. There is still a decent percentage of people selecting negative images - poor quality, failure, and cheap.

Moving on to Dodge, we see a stronger case for success, and about the same figures for quality (high and low). There are fewer ratings of upscale, as one would expect, and also fewer for failure.

How about Buick? The primary number is "upscale," fitting Buick's new image goal. That's at 45%, vs 29% for Chrysler, which makes sense, since GM isn't mincing words about where they want Buick to be or trying to make it fill Chevrolet's shoes at the same time.

Allpar readers did not rate Buick's quality quite so well - or so poorly. Both "high" and "low" quality ratings were less likely to be chosen, possibly because many have no real experience with Buick. It was also more likely to be associated with "failure" by readers.

We then asked if people would consider buying various cars. 45% would absolutely consider a Chrysler, and 46% would absolutely consider a Dodge, which is good overall albeit maybe not as high as one would like on a Chrysler site. With Chevrolet, 37% chose "absolutely not" and just 8% picked "absolutely yes."

If we combine the "4" and "5" ratings, we find 66% of our own readers would consider a Chrysler and 70% would consider a Dodge.

As for any thoughts of Maxwell, the company that produced the first Chrysler, they're pretty much dead when you see 73% saying "definitely not."

Want to see more surveys?

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