Toyota recaptures corporate loyalty leadership; Ford is top brand
Toyota Motor Corp. has recaptured the top spot among automakers in U.S. customer loyalty for the first time since the third quarter of 2009, according to a study released Thursday by Experian Automotive.
Toyota had the highest corporate loyalty rate, at 47.3 percent, during the second quarter, edging General Motors, 46.2 percent; Ford Motor Co.; 46 percent; and Hyundai-Kia Motor Group, 45.3 percent. Honda Motor Co. Inc. was No. 5 with a loyalty rate of 43.1 percent, Experian Automotive said.
The loyalty results measure what percentage of owners an automaker retains when a vehicle is traded in or comes off lease. The results are based on registration data and cover all of an automaker's brands, Experian said.
The Ford brand was the No. 1 individual brand, with a loyalty rate of 44.7 percent during the second quarter. Ford was followed by the Toyota brand at 44.6 percent, Experian Automotive said.
Toyota's comeback is largely a function of its recovery from the March 2011 earthquake, said Jeffrey Anderson, director of consulting and analytics for Experian Automotive.
The disaster disrupted vehicle supplies across the U.S. industry, especially for Toyota and Honda.
"Toyota has done an outstanding job of regaining customer trust and getting repeat customers into showrooms," Anderson said in a statement. "To restore normal operations and regain customer trust in such a short time following the earthquake and tsunami is a truly remarkable comeback."
The second-quarter loyalty data comes as Toyota begins a recall of about 2.5 million vehicles in the United States related to driver's side power window switches that could pose a fire hazard.
Toyota's brand image was dinged even before last year's tsunami restricted supplies. In early 2010, Toyota recalled close to 5 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles in the United States to replace floor mats, which were seen as a potential threat to catch the gas pedal.
Toyota said the latest loyalty survey demonstrates the company's model lineup, dealers and service continue to meet the needs of most customers.
"Satisfaction after 90 days is pretty much a given these days," Toyota spokesman Mike Michels said. "But whether a customer buys from a carmaker again, after years of ownership, is a measure of the complete ownership experience."
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