WESTERVILLE, Ohio — According to the new Ad-ology Auto Shoppers Forecast, 36 percent of U.S. consumers plan to purchase a new vehicle in the next 12 months, a 64 percent increase from May 2011. Pushing consumers off the sidelines, company officials said, is economic stability and vehicle age.

The Ad-ology study also showed momentum swinging back to Japanese brands, giving marketers of those vehicles a considerable advantage.

“Stability in the U.S. economy is allowing many owners of older vehicles to shop for a replacement,” says C. Lee Smith, president and CEO of Ad-ology Research. “More than one-third of those who intend to purchase a new car or truck in the next 12 months will be replacing a vehicle that is 10 years old or older.”

Japanese automakers are starting to bounce back from supply shortages caused by the March 2011 tsunami. Toyota, Honda and Nissan all show increases in purchase consideration from one year ago. Toyota is now tops in brand consideration, with 48.3 percent of consumers citing it as a brand they will consider. That’s an increase of 19.6 percent from 12 months ago.

Also joining the list of Top 10 most considered brands for purchase this summer were Acura and Kia, while Chrysler and BMW fell out of the top ten.

Looking at factors that influence buyers during the purchase process, the study found that automaker and dealer websites are as influential as the dealer’s own salespeople before the test drive. A dealership’s service department ranks as the fourth most-important factor when consumers choose a dealership (behind willingness to negotiate, reputation, and selection of vehicles available).

One in four new-vehicle shoppers in the U.S. market have attended an auto show in the past 12 months. Automotive advertising has surprisingly more influence than potential buyers’ friends or parents, the study also found, while 53 percent of potential new-vehicle buyers say that television advertising has caused them to call, click, search, or visit the advertiser. Additionally, 46.9 percent say television commercials have caused them to take action within the past 30 days.

Digital media continues to influence consumers and is becoming an increasingly crucial component for automotive marketers. In addition to banner ads, social media and daily deal sites, Smith said that manufacturers and dealers alike must find their way onto auto shoppers’ smartphones.

“Seven in ten potential new-vehicle buyers now have a smartphone for personal use — up from 57.3 percent last year,” Smith says. “Mobile devices will only continue to grow as part of the buying process over the next three years.”

The 76-page report is currently available for $95 through the company’s Research Store at Ad-ology.com.