CHICAGO — Cars.com officials cited ongoing negative publicity surrounding Toyota recalls as the primary reason the automaker's units are dropping in popularity on the Web site.
In fact, the site found that the Toyota Camry — which once owned its largest share of consumer contacts to dealers among midsize sedans during the height of Cash for Clunkers — now ranks fifth.
Site officials now indicated the Camry comes behind the Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima and Ford Fusion in terms of consumer traffic on the site.
Cars.com was especially caught by the rise of the Hyundai unit. Officials speculated that the combination of Toyota's struggles and Hyundai's aggressive marketing program that included advertising in the Super Bowl has pushed the Sonata to the No. 2 spot in the midsize sedan segment.
Meanwhile, Cars.com found that the news isn't any better for the Toyota Corolla.
Officials stated that prior to the recall, the Corolla ranked near the top of new compact vehicles in terms of the amount of consumer contacts to dealers. Now instead of being in close competition with the Honda Civic and Volkswagen Jetta, the Corolla lags back in eighth among compact vehicles.
Finally in regard to full-size pickup trucks, Cars.com pointed out that the Toyota Tundra hit a peak in May 2009 when it commanded 17 percent of the consumer contacts to dealers through the site.
After the recall, site officials revealed that the Tundra's share on Cars.com has dropped by more than half to 8 percent.
"It's clear that the constant government and media scrutiny of safety issues with the various recalled Toyota products has affected which vehicles consumers are considering on Cars.com," explained Cars.com editor in chief Patrick Olsen.
"What remains to be seen is how much damage has been done and which manufacturer will be the beneficiary of Toyota's current troubles," Olsen concluded.