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Recalls drive Barra to top of 'most influential' lists

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NEW YORK (April 22, 2014) — Normally, a new CEO would be pleased to rocket to the top spot in terms of influence for an industry.

But a recent study by online marketing research firm Appinions Inc. has found that General Motors Co. CEO Mary Barra’s rapid rise to become the most influential executive in the automotive industry may not be welcomed news. Ms. Barra earned the top spot in Appinions’ new industry influence study, narrowly beating out Tesla Motors Inc. CEO Elon Musk, as the marketplace reacts to the news of recent recall announcements.

(Crain News Service photo)
Mary Barra

Five different GM executives earned spots on the top 20 list, while only four Ford Motor Co. execs were listed, led by CEO Alan Mulally, who ranked eighth. Appinions said the prominence of Tesla in the industry “was highlighted by their rank as the sixth most influential auto brand—ahead of more established names including Daimler, Nissan, Honda, and BMW.”

The Appinions study is based on analysis of more than 2 billion documents including TV transcripts, offline publications, online publications, blogs, forums and social media. The Appinions platform identified approximately 225 million opinions that appeared between Jan. 10 and April 8. The New York-based company said it then identified who held each opinion and calculated influence scores based on attributes of the meaningful reactions each opinion causes or inspires.

The study also found that safety-related conversations doubled in the past 30 days, as recall issues consumed 40 percent of all influential conversations about GM; meanwhile, Cadillac saw  the lowest impact among GM brands.

“This year we’ve seen discussions of safety, auto technology and luxury grow in impact,” said Larry Levy, CEO of Appinions, “while historically ‘hot’ topics like performance and design have dropped significantly in terms of their impact.

“Other interesting trends include Apple and Google driving over 50 percent of the discussion around connected cars, while discussion of hybrids and electric vehicles has replaced most talk of improved gas mileage. We’re able to literally measure how times are changing.”

The study lists the six most influential themes in the automotive industry as Safety, Auto Technology, Fuel Economy, Performance, Luxury and Design. In each area the executives and companies driving the conversation are ranked and scored based on Appinions’ analysis. GM and Toyota Motor Corp. disproportionately consume the safety discussion, according to Appinions, while more than 30 different brands play almost equally in conversations about performance.

The Appinions Automotive Industry Influence Study is available by clicking here.

According to its website, Appinions is a Manhattan-based startup “that provides a SaaS (software as a service) influence marketing platform and services that let people see the Web through the lens of peoples’ opinions.

“Behind the services is a natural language understanding platform, based on over a decade of research at Cornell University by Dr. Claire Cardie, Computer Science, and her students.”

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