Toyota leads the automotive industry in retaining the highest percentage of new-vehicle purchasers, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Customer Retention Study(SM).
Now in its fourth year, the study measures the percentage of new-vehicle buyers and lessees who replace a previously purchased new vehicle with another from the same nameplate.
As a whole, the industry registers a slight decline in customer retention, falling to 47.9 per cent, from 49.6 per cent in 2005.
The study finds that of more than one-half of the brands included in the rankings have shown some decline in retention rates since the study’s inception in 2003.
“Declining customer loyalty results from considerable improvements in quality combined with a plethora of choices for consumers,” said Neal Oddes, director of product research and analysis at J.D. Power and Associates. “In some instances, new models, such as those in the rapidly growing crossover segment, can have a significant impact on customer retention for a brand.”
With a 1.3 percentage-point improvement from 2005, Toyota (63.9 per cent) replaces Lexus (63.2 per cent) in the customer retention rankings.
Toyota benefits from its reputation for exceeding customer expectations in terms of both short-term and long-term quality, which has helped to maintain the high resale value of its vehicles, as well as to expand its customer base.
Honda retains its third-place ranking at 60.3 per cent.
BMW, improving nearly seven percentage points from last year, jumps six places to rank fourth at 56.5 per cent.
This gain, according to the study, can be mostly attributed to improved customer service stemming from BMW’s introduction of a free vehicle maintenance policy for new purchasers.
Bolstered by a 15 percentage-point increase from 2005, Suzuki achieves the largest gain in customer retention among all brands with a 23 percentage-point overall gain since the study’s inception in 2003. Several factors contribute to Suzuki’s improving loyalty rates, including improved short- and long-term quality, as well as the introduction of new models with better customer appeal. Suzuki customers are also often offered attractive purchase incentives.
Also registering robust three-year gains are Nissan, advancing 8.2 percentage points from 2003, and Lexus, which gains 7.7 percentage points.
Also worth noting is Cadillac, which, through quality improvements and a breadth of products, has achieved an increase in customer retention rates each year since 2003.
The 2006 Customer Retention Study is based on responses from 138,630 new-vehicle buyers and lessees, of which 82,274 replaced a vehicle that was previously acquired new.