Mike Stevens | Jan 23, 2012

New data from US market analysts J.D. Power shows that Hyundai boasts the new-car market's most satisfied long-term customers, with the brand increasing its retention rate from 60 percent in 2010 to 64 percent in 2011.

Ford and Honda took a close second-place tie in the survey, both carrying a customer retention rate of 60 percent. Jeep achieved the greatest improvement in the US market overall however, climbing 17 percentage points to 51 percent in the new year.

The study, now into its ninth year, measures the loyalty of new-car buyers, examining the rate at which carmakers retain existing customers.

Over 117,000 new-car buyers were surveyed, with 73,333 of those being existing owners of a vehicle bought new rather than used.

The results show that most car buyers in the US hold onto their cars for at least 36 months, meaning that most new car buyers in 2011 last bought a new vehicle in 2008 or earlier.

The study also looked at buyers switching from one brand to another, described in the survey as "conquesting". One in three buyers switching brands pointed to the absence of a preferred vehicle or specification among their previous brand's models as the main motivator for switching.

“Manufacturers need to integrate specific attributes and features that delight vehicle owners to maximize their opportunity to both retain customers and conquest from other brands," J.D. Power's Raffi Festekjian said.

"Manufacturers also need to ensure owners are satisfied with the quality, residual values and ownership costs of their vehicles.”

The results showed that of the different types of buyers, women and younger buyers have a higher retention rate, with Hyundai, Honda, Kia and Mercedes-Benz holding onto the most female customers.

Ford, Kia, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz proved strong with both Generation X and Generation Y - those aged between 23 and 47.


2012 Brand Retention Rates

Hyundai - 64%
Ford - 60%
Honda - 60%
BMW - 59%
Kia - 59%
Toyota - 58%
Chevrolet - 57%
Mercedes-Benz - 57%
Lexus - 54%
Cadillac - 52%
Jeep - 51%
Nissan - 50%
MINI - 49%
Ram - 49%
Industry Average - 49%
Subaru - 48%
Land Rover - 47%
Volkswagen - 47%
GMC - 46%
Infiniti - 46%
Acura - 45%
Audi - 45%
Porsche - 42%
Lincoln - 40%
Buick - 38%
Mazda - 34%
Mitsubishi - 33%
Jaguar - 31%
Volvo - 30%
Chrysler - 26%
Scion - 24%
Dodge - 21%
Suzuki - 20%
SAAB - 7%

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