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Toyota Tops in Customer Loyalty for 2009

Japanese maker beats ailing GM for first time in nine years.

by on Jan.13, 2010

King of the loyalty castle in spite of what the peasants in the media assert.

Japanese makers Toyota and Honda took top honors in the R. L. Polk & Co.’s 14th Annual Automotive Loyalty Awards.

Toyota ranked number one in Overall Loyalty to a Manufacturer at almost 60%, which indicates a manufacturer’s ability to retain previous customers. Honda was at 55%.

Toyota beat General Motors for the first time in nine years, likely as a result of its well-publicized bankruptcy, subsequent cancellation of four brands, Pontiac, Saturn, Saab and Hummer, and ongoing losses. All of course are devastating to the confidence of potential purchasers.

An earlier Polk study indicates the magnitude of a loyalty problem GM faces after canceling brands. Based on data from January through August 2009, three-quarters of the defectors (75%)  from GM brands purchased an import car or truck, while 25% bought a Ford or Chrysler product.

Top non-GM models purchased by former Saturn owners during this period are the Toyota Corolla, Honda Accord, Honda CR-V and the Toyota Camry. The top-selling domestic vehicle to defected Saturn owners are the Ford Fusion, the Ford Escape and the Ford Focus though  in smaller volumes.

In the  latest study, Toyota won top honors in the Mid/Full-Size Car and Mid/Full-Size SUV categories for the Toyota Prius and Lexus RX respectively, and received the new award for brand loyalty among Asian American consumers.

Loyalty, as Polk defines it, is determined when a household that owns a new vehicle returns to the auto market and purchases or leases another new vehicle of the same model or make.

The numbers, arguably, refute a growing chorus of media claims that Toyota is suffering from an image problem due to well-publicized recalls for unintended acceleration and rusting, as well as customer complaints about the braking performance of the Prius hybrid model, amongother issues.