Experian Automotive on Tuesday announced that Ford Motor Co. took the top spot in customer loyalty during the fourth quarter of 2012 for the first time since the same period a year earlier.
During the fourth quarter, Experian Automotive said, 47.9% of the customers who owned a Ford vehicle returned to buy another Ford or Lincoln vehicle. General Motors had the second-highest customer loyalty ranking at 47.7%, followed by Toyota Motor Corporation at 46.9%.
“Customer loyalty will always be a very important barometer of automotive sales success,” said Jeffrey Anderson, director of consulting and analytics for Experian Automotive.
“Ford has developed extremely loyal customers across a wide range of vehicles. That consistency across its product line has helped vault Ford’s loyalty rankings past its rivals in our latest study,” he said.
Ford also dominated loyalty at the brand level, coming in with 47.1% of Ford owners returning to the market to purchase another Ford vehicle. Mercedes Benz was second with 43.7%.
Ford had a record eight of the top 10 vehicles listed in brand model loyalty.
The Ford Fusion topped the list, with 60% of Fusion owners returning to market to purchase another Ford vehicle.
Other Ford vehicles in the top 10 included the Flex, Edge, Five Hundred, Fiesta, Escape, Focus and Taurus. The only non-Ford vehicles in the top 10 were the Kia Forte and the Chevrolet Sonic.
Other findings included the fact that the average length of vehicle ownership fell from 68.1 months in 2011 to 66.2 months in 2012.
Hybrids also squeaked past an important threshold, Experian Automotive said.
During the fourth quarter of 2012, the hybrid vehicle segment accounted for 1.03% of all vehicles in operation (VIO). It was the first time in history that hybrids topped 1% in that category.