New vehicle buyers are less loyal now than they were last year — substantially less so than three years ago.
Some of the lack of “commitment” is due to the low inventories buyers have faced in light of the COVID pandemic, according to the latest study from S&P Global Mobility. General Motors and Tesla were tops among the auto companies securing the faith of previous owners.
“The past three years have been a challenge for the automotive industry,” said Joe LaFeir, president, Automotive Insights, S&P Global Mobility. “As customers are returning back to market post-pandemic and inventory levels have slowly improved from last year’s lows, retaining loyal customers has been more challenging than ever before.”
S&P Global Mobility announced the winners of its 27th annual Automotive Loyalty Awards, recognizing General Motors as the winner of its “Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer” award and Tesla for “Overall Loyalty to Make.”
The winners are determined by tracking buying activity from January – December 2022. Loyalty fell as the auto industry dealt with several obstacles including fewer customers returning to the market. Plus once they did, buyers still found a dearth of the vehicles they wanted.
Loyalty numbers fell for the third straight year falling from 54.6% in 2019 to 50.2% last year.
Tesla bucks trend
While many brands faced issues, Tesla rose above the crowd, hauling in repeat wins for “Highest Conquest Percentage” and “Alternative Powertrain Loyalty to Make” as well as the “Overall Loyalty to Make” honor.
Officials noted the “combination of an active return-to-market consumer base and a majority share of BEV sales were contributors to Tesla’s loyalty performance this year. However, the brand’s resonance with ethnic consumers was a key driver in its recognition of loyalty improvement and diversity retention.” This also gave the Texas-based EV maker the win in the “Ethnic Loyalty to Make” category.
In all, Tesla or its products took home seven awards in 2022, repeating in two categories: Highest Conquest Percentage and Alternative Powertrain Loyalty to Make. The Model Y and Model 3 captured wins for the Luxury Small Utility and Luxury Small Car, respectively.
GM’s win marked the eighth consecutive year it took the “Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer” award. It also captured five individual awards, largely for SUVs and pickups, including the Chevrolet Equinox, Chevrolet Tahoe, Chevrolet Silverado 2500/3500, Chevrolet Bolt and Chevrolet Corvette.
Mercedes-Benz, with the successful launch of the EQS, was recognized this year as the winner for the “Most Improved Alternative Powertrain Loyalty to Make” award, recognizing a brand’s improvement in its ability to retain an owner to both the brand and either a BEV or hybrid powertrain.
Subaru scored its first win in the “Overall Loyalty to Dealer” category as 38% of Subaru owners returning to market acquired their next vehicle from the same dealer.
This year’s awards are based on a fact-based analysis of 11.7 million new retail vehicle registrations in the U.S. during the 2022 calendar year, the company noted. Loyalty is determined when a household that owns a new vehicle returns to market and acquires another new vehicle of the same make, model or manufacturer. The newly acquired vehicle may be either a replacement or an addition to the household fleet.