Honda Motor Company Retains Strongest Corporate Reputation Among Automakers; Volkswagen Group’s Reputation Plunges

NEW YORK – Among automakers, Honda Motor Company has the strongest corporate reputation for the second consecutive year, according to The Harris Poll® 2016 Reputation Quotient® (RQ®) Summary Report. The 17th annual study, released today, reveals corporate reputation ratings for the 100 most visible companies in the U.S., as perceived by the general public. Volkswagen Group drops to the bottom of the list, the only company among the 100 most visible companies in the U.S. to receive a “very poor” rating.

Seven automakers appear on Harris Poll’s list of corporate reputation ratings with RQ scores ranging from “very good” to “very poor.” Honda Motor Company ranks 17th among companies overall with a “very good” rating. Volkswagen Group, in light of its recent emissions scandal, dropped from the second highest-rated reputation in the auto industry in 2015[1] to last place among companies across industries at #100. The full rankings for all 100 companies can be found in The Harris Poll 2016 Reputation Quotient Summary Report at

“Perhaps more so than other industries, the auto industry is undergoing a dramatic transformation,” said Wendy Salomon, vice president, Reputation Management at Nielsen, which owns The Harris Poll. “New business models, new technologies and heightened consumer expectations are changing the industry. During transformational times like this, the value of corporate reputation cannot be understated. In order to have the marketplace’s ‘permission’ to become something new, different, better and increasingly relevant, automotive companies must work to protect and build their reputational equity. Without it, disruption is a threat. With it, disruption can open new doors.”

The RQ, an important baseline for managing reputation and identifying new market risks and opportunities, measures companies’ reputation strength based on the perceptions of more than 23,000 Americans across 20 attributes classified into six corporate reputation dimensions: Social Responsibility, Emotional Appeal, Products and Services, Vision and Leadership, Financial Performance, and Workplace Environment. The reputations of the 100 most visible companies in the U.S. range from excellent (scores of 80+) to very poor (scores of 50 to 54).


The Harris Poll 2016 Reputation Quotient

Automotive Companies Ranked Among the Top 100 Visible Companies in the U.S.

by Corporate Reputation Strength


Automotive Company

RQ Rank

RQ Score

Honda Motor Company


79.16, Very Good



76.37, Very Good

Ford Motor Company


74.10, Good

Toyota Motor Corporation


71.50, Good

General Motors


66.27, Fair

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles


66.07, Fair

Volkswagen Group


54.75, Very Poor


Positive Perceptions of the Auto Industry Moderately Improve

The RQ study shows that 51 percent of Americans believe the automotive industry has a good reputation, up from 46 percent in 2015. Americans’ positive perceptions of the auto industry are on a steady incline since 2009’s financial collapse, when only 16 percent of Americans surveyed said the industry had a good reputation.

“Taking a long view, the auto industry’s reputation continues to show slow recovery,” said Salomon. “It’s important to note that this year’s reputation restoration took place despite it being the second consecutive year when more than 50 million vehicles were recalled in the United States. In an industry where negative news has become the presumed norm, a good reputation management program that shows the strength of a company’s corporate character, combined with stellar incident management, can have a positive effect.”

Reputation Dimensions

According to the RQ study, trust and other Emotional Appeal attributes such as respect and admiration are key reputational drivers for the automotive industry – even more so than product perceptions. Confidence that the company behaves with high ethical standards is also central to reducing reputational risk, and the strength of company leadership plays a critical role as well. Honda performs well in Products and Services with attributes including high quality, good value for the money, and innovation. The company also outpaces its competitors on Vision and Leadership. In Volkswagen’s case, reputation dimensions of Emotional Appeal and Social Responsibility (environmental responsibility, community responsibility) are at critical levels.

“While Volkswagen’s recent crisis clearly impacted the public’s view of the organization, there are many stories of reputation resilience in the automotive sector,” said Salomon. “Gaining the public’s confidence in the areas that have the greatest potential to drive a positive reputation for the company will be the key to driving Volkswagen’s restoration.”


The 2016 Harris Poll Reputation Quotient Report was conducted online in English, among more than 23,000 U.S. respondents from November 13 – December 24, 2015, with preliminary nominating waves of research conducted among 4,078 respondents from September 8 -10 and October 6 – 8, 2015. The Annual RQ study begins with a Nomination Phase, which is used to identify the companies with the most “visible” reputations. All respondents are asked, unaided, to name companies that stand out as having the best and worst reputations. Online nominations are summed to create a total number of nominations for each company. The final list of the 100 most visible companies in the U.S. is measured in the RQ Ratings Phase. In the ratings phase, respondents are randomly assigned to rate two of the companies with which they are “very” or “somewhat” familiar.  After the first company rating is completed, the respondent is given the option to rate the second company. Companies are rated on their reputation on 20 different attributes that comprise the Reputation Quotient instrument. The attributes are grouped into six different reputation dimensions: Emotional Appeal, Financial Performance, Products and Services, Social Responsibility, Vision and Leadership, and Workplace Environment.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll and sample partner surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in an online panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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About The Harris Poll

Over the last five decades, Harris Polls have become media staples. With comprehensive experience and precise technique in public opinion polling, along with a proven track record of uncovering consumers’ motivations and behaviors, The Harris Poll has gained strong brand recognition around the world. The Harris Poll offers a diverse portfolio of proprietary client solutions to transform relevant insights into actionable foresight for a wide range of industries including health care, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer packaged goods. Nielsen acquired The Harris Poll in 2014. Contact us for more information.

Harris Poll Reputation Quotient study results disclosed in this press release may not be used for advertising, marketing or promotional purposes without the prior written consent of Harris Poll.

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[1] Volkswagen Group was measured in the background in 2015 as it did not qualify as one of the 100 most visible companies.