Autos

Car Brands with the Most Loyal Drivers

5. Chevrolet
> Loyalty: 51.0%
> 2013 Sales: 821,674
> YTD sales growth: 5.1%
> 2013 market share: 12.8% (2nd largest)

Chevrolet has the highest customer loyalty of any American-owned car brand. While this means Chevrolet owners would repeatedly buy the brand, it also means that Chevrolet likely has the least new customers of any other American brand, relative to its size. Chevrolet is one of the largest car brands in the country. With the exception of Ford, no other brand approaches Chevrolet’s 821,674 in total vehicle sales in the United States through the first five months of this year. A large portion of the brand’s business is driven by sales of trucks, where consumers are usually especially loyal.

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4. Toyota
> Loyalty: 51.4%
> 2013 Sales: 787,836
> YTD sales growth: 4.7%
> 2013 market share: 12.3% (3rd largest)

Toyota is a large brand that relies heavily on loyalty, according to Edmunds.com’s Acevedo. Based on recent sales figures, it appears Toyota Motor Corp. (NYSE: TM) may need to improve its conquest sales, or sales from new clients. The brand’s sales rose by 2.1% through the first five months of the year, compared to the same period last year. However, U.S. car sales were up by more than 8% during that time. Toyota’s sales have been flat partly because sales of its top-selling sedans, including the Camry, have fallen as more Americans are making the transition to crossover SUVs.

3. BMW
> Loyalty: 51.7%
> 2013 Sales: 113,357
> YTD sales growth: 8.2%
> 2013 market share: 1.8% (17th largest)

BMW is one of the nation’s best-selling luxury brands, with more than 113,000 vehicles sold this year through May. The brand has strived to maintain a very strong, loyal customer base. The German brand competes fiercely with another German brand, Mercedes-Benz, which last year sold more vehicles in the United States, nearly 295,000, than BMW’s 281,460. This is on pace to continue this year as well, with Mercedes holding a healthy lead over BMW as of May. One possible problem may be that BMW generates too little of its sales from new customers. Just 48.3% of customers who trade-in for a BMW are new buyers, versus 53.5% for Mercedes-Benz.

2. Honda
> Loyalty: 52.4%
> 2013 Sales: 545,447
> YTD sales growth: 5.2%
> 2013 market share: 8.5% (4th largest)

Much like fellow Japanese auto brand Toyota, Honda is a large brand that relies heavily on loyalty, Edmunds’ Acevedo explained. And like Toyota, Honda sales are up this year, but by less than the U.S. auto market as a whole. Honda Motor Co. Ltd. (NYSE: HMC) also is losing sales for its top-selling midsize sedan, the Civic. They are down by 4.5% through the first five months of the year, compared to the first five months of 2012. Despite the fact that crossover sales are up 13.9% through May compared to the same period last year, sales of the CR-V are also down. Sales of the make’s full-size sedan, the Accord, however, have grown by more than 20% over the same period.

1. Lexus
> Loyalty: 57.8%
> 2013 Sales: 97,060
> YTD sales growth: 10.2%
> 2013 market share: 1.5% (18th highest)

Lexus generates a market-leading 57.8% of sales from trade-ins from repeat customers, by far the most of any car brand in America. One possible reason consumers remain loyal is the strong brand value it has earned as a luxury automaker. But even with its strong customer loyalty, the brand has had constrained sales compared to other high-end automakers. Lexus sales fell by 6% between 2008 and 2012, even as sales of luxury brands Mercedes-Benz and Buick each grew more than 30% during that time.

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