PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- Super Bowl commercials exist this year for one reason above all else: To get you to buy a car.
Yes, you can still ogle or sigh at Danica Patrick as GoDaddy tries to lure you into its Web hosting services. You can still be an underpaid content creator for PepsiCo's (PEP) Doritos by voting for the videos in its Crash The Super Bowl promotion.
Mostly, though, you'll be asked to sit through minutes of car ads just as you have for the past three years. From 2009 to last year, the number of auto companies shelling out for Super Bowl ads has risen to seven from three, according to Kantar Media. The number of brands being promoted quadrupled to 12 from three in that same span, while the amount of money being spent by automakers soared from $18 million to $94.5 million, or more than a third of the $262.5 million in total Super Bowl ad spending in 2012.
Those companies have also more than quadrupled their airtime since 2009, as the average football fan who put up with three minutes of car commercials during the the big game that year sat through a whopping 13 minutes and 30 seconds of car commercials during the 2012 game. Just thinking about Super Bowl commercials from the past few years brings to mind auto industry epics such as Volkswagen's Darth Vader kid and Chrysler's Clint Eastwood-driven Halftime In America.What's turned Super Bowl game breaks into a full-fledged parking lot? Industry leaders running out of gas. Toyota (TM) found itself in a tight spot a couple of years ago as accelerator problems prompted recalls and altered public perception. Though it's since recovered, competitors were quick to attack while the company and its Lexus luxury brand were down. The bigger target, however, is General Motors (GM). While the automaker is an official NFL sponsor and has spent $97.2 million on Super Bowl ads since 2003, it's been out of the game since declaring bankruptcy and taking a government bailout. Unlike Chrysler, which got help from Fiat and stormed back into the Super Bowl spotlight almost immediately, GM still has Uncle Sam holding the purse strings and is loath to spend taxpayer money on Super Bowl spots while the yokels are still calling it "government motors." GM still has the largest share of the U.S. auto market, but growth has been slow compared with the double-digit percentage point gains of competitors such as Chrysler, Toyota, Honda (HMC) and Hyundai/Kia. As a result, there's a big field of nine car brands at the Super Bowl this year waiting to pick up GM's scraps. Here's what they have in store:
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