Toyota Owners Are Most Loyal, But Chevy Sonic Is Top Model

October 11, 2012
Corporate and brand loyalty, Q2 of 2012 (infographic via Experian Automotive)

Corporate and brand loyalty, Q2 of 2012 (infographic via Experian Automotive)

How much do you love your car? Enough to buy another of the same make when it's time to upgrade? Or at least enough to buy another from the same automaker? 

If you drive a vehicle from the Toyota family -- including Scion and Lexus -- chances are pretty good that your answer to that third question is "yes". 

That nugget of information comes courtesy of Experian Automotive, which crunched data from second-quarter auto sales and discovered that 47.3% of folks who drove vehicles from the Toyota family bought another Toyota vehicle during that period.

And that's enough to put Toyota at the top of the corporate loyalty heap for the first time since 2009 -- the year that Toyota began facing massive recall troubles.

Corporate loyalty

According to Experian, U.S. consumers purchased 3.6 million vehicles between April 1 and June 30 of this year. And during that period, not only did many Toyota shoppers return to Toyota showrooms, but Toyota also made a 2.8% gain in market share compared to Q2 of 2011.

Interestingly, General Motors lost 1.5% of market share during that same period, but it still managed to come in second place for corporate loyalty. All told, a respectable 46.2% of GM vehicle owners purchased another Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, or GMC during those three months.

The story at Ford was much the same: Ford lost market share during Q2, but hit 46% corporate loyalty.

Of the biggest automakers doing business in the U.S., Chrysler was the only one other than Toyota to gain market share in Q2, jumping about 1.25% over Q2 of 2011.

Brand loyalty

But Experian didn't just track big-picture corporate loyalty stats. It also kept tabs on brand loyalty -- that is, loyalty to particular makes. 

At the top of the list sits the Chevrolet Sonic, with 60.3% of Sonic owners opting for another Chevy vehicle in Q2 (though not necessarily a Sonic).

Most of the six remaining top-ten models are Fords. The Ford Fusion nabbed second place, generating 59.9% repeat Ford customers; the Ford Flex came in third at 56%; and the Ford Edge nabbed fourth place with 55.1%. The Ford Five Hundred, Toyota Prius, Chevrolet Cruze, Kia Forte, Ford Escape, and Ford Fiesta rounded out the top ten.

Our take

The biggest takeaway from Experian's findings is that Toyota has rebounded from the 2009/2010 recall fiasco -- some of which was more a problem of public perception than mechanical flaws. Today, Toyota and Chrysler are gnawing away at their competitors' market share.

The other point to note is that there's no easy correlation between models, makes, and corporate loyalty. Toyota, for example, only had one model on Experian's brand-loyalty top-ten list: the Toyota Prius. However, Toyota came out ahead in corporate loyalty and saw a massive surge in market share.

Ford, on the other hand, dominated the brand-loyalty list, but placed third in corporate loyalty and ultimately lost market share.

There are a lot of external factors that may have influenced these Q2 results -- not least of which are the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011, impacting sales for months to come. However, it seems that having a stronger set of vehicles across the corporate family can pay bigger dividends than having a few highly respected models.

We'll ask again: how much do you love your car? Enough to buy another of the same make when it's time to upgrade? Or at least enough to buy another from the same automaker? Drop us a line, or leave a note in the comments below.

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