Loyalty to cars has not gone out of style as the annual Polk Loyalty Awards prove.
General Motors, despite the bad press, led all manufacturers by retaining 62.5% of its owners who bought cars in 2008. While there are plenty of reasons for GM customers to re-up, one undeniable factor in helping keep the number high is resale value and rebates. Some GM vehicles depreciate faster than imports. It’s a real factor at retail. And if you take a Chevy or Pontiac you want to trade, or still owe money on, to a dealer, GM dealers are going to give you the most consideration on the car. Take a Pontiac Grand Prix to trade at a Honda dealer, and see how much consideration or incentive money you get. Zip. That dealer doesn’t want the car.
So, while GM is making a lot of great cars and trucks today—Malibu, Aura, Silverado, Tahoe—some of its inglorious past of over producing mediocre vehicles, which leads to fast depreciation, is actually a factor in giving its loyalty rate a positive bump.
That said, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention some of the vehicles that keep customers coming back because of sheer quality and deserved brand loyalty. Silverado pickup retained 32.77% of customers, best among pickups. Chevy Suburban retained 20.42%, best among full-sized SUVs. Corvette led luxury sports cars with 23.9%. Chevy Impala led the full-size car segment with 34% (This is the one I question, and how much of this might be impacted by fleet buyers, because the full-sized category is very fragmented with cars that get no advertising and hardly any fleet business, like Hyundai Azera and Toyota Avalon. Though I might have expected to see Chrysler 300 here).
Honda led all nameplates with 56.5%. Subaru Forester led all compact SUVs with 32.5%. As I have been personally shopping for a used car, I can say that one of the things that keeps Forester buyers coming back is not only the snow-shoe capability of the car, but the strong resale. I am astonished at some of the used car prices I see on Foresters.
Ditto Toyota Tacoma, which kept 18.1% of its buyers. Shopping for a used Tacoma is an eye opener. Its resale value remains astonishingly high given the aggressive discounting of full-sized pickups, including the Toyota Tundra.
Toyota in general does great with ethnic consumers, especially Latinos. Toyota manages to keep 54.5% of ethnic buyers one year to the next. Wow.