SYDNEY: Toyota, Mazda and Honda are the auto brands enjoying the highest levels of consideration in Australia, where their fledgling Chinese rivals are struggling to gain traction.

Based on data from over 10,000 shoppers gathered since 2006, Roy Morgan Research, the insights provider, estimated 2.2m people would be in the market for a new car in the coming four years.

This constitutes a 10% increase in the last five years, it added. However, as there are more than 45 brands vying for sales in the passenger vehicle and SUV segments, competition is also rising.

Toyota was the manufacturer boasting the greatest rate of interest, as just 8% of the 5,969 adults questioned for the latest research round agreed they would not consider it when making a purchase.

Such a figure put it well ahead of Mazda, posting 12% on this metric, and Honda, which yielded 14%. The average across the 12 leading automakers by volume sales was 23%.

Norman Morris, industry communications director at Roy Morgan Research, argued "brand rejection" at the outset of the purchase process was a vital key performance indicator.

"Brand rejection represents the portion of the market that is essentially unavailable for a brand," he said.

"Consumer's rejection for a brand can occur for a number of reasons, including low satisfaction with a vehicle they have owned, negative WOM from trusted advisors, damaging PR, poor dealership experience and in the case of the luxury brands possibly barriers to cost of ownership."

Volkswagen was one firm which has seen a significant improvement in its position during the last five years, as its proportion of "rejectors" declined from 35% to 22%.

Less positively, most of the Chinese challengers seeking to make headway are still greeted with scepticism, as has previously been the case for Korean players Hyundai and Kia, which are increasingly popular, Morris argued.

"With many Chinese manufactured vehicles starting to hit our shores, brand rejection is an effective measure to track their acceptance as a brand. Great Wall, Chery and Geely all have rejection levels above 60%," he said.

"This means that more than 1.4m of the 2.2m-plus strong new car market are currently unobtainable to these brands."

Data sourced from Roy Morgan Research; additional content by Warc staff