Crossover and SUV popularity gains look like they won't slow down anytime soon, as business information provider IHS Markit said consumer loyalty numbers for the SUV/crossover body style reached an all-time high in April.
The analysis found that more than two-thirds of SUV and crossover owners who returned to the market in the first four months of 2017 purchased another new SUV or crossover.
Consumer loyalty for SUVs and crossovers grew from 53 percent in 2012 to 66 percent in April 2017. Loyalty for all SUV and crossover body styles is now nearly 14 percentage points greater than the industry average -- 53 percent --which includes pickups, sedans, total vans, hatchbacks, coupes and convertibles.
"We collect this data and provide it to our clients once a month, but we felt that the results were so extraordinary in terms of consumer loyalty numbers for SUVs and CUVs that we wanted to publicly release it," Tom Libby, manager of automotive loyalty and industry analysis at IHS Markit, told Automotive News.
Consumer loyalty of pickups also has increased every year since 2012 and was 51 percent through the first four months of 2017. IHS Markit said the continual increase in owners purchasing this body style is in part due to low gas prices.
"While one can make the case that a factor is gas prices, there are some other key drivers to sport and crossover utility," Libby said. "One is wide range of selection in price and size of crossover vehicles. SUVs also have the appealing combination where the driver gets the comfort level of being in a car but also gets the versatility of being in a larger vehicle."
The analysis by IHS Markit, headquartered in London, covered new-vehicle transactions from January 2012 to April 2017, including purchases and leases among owners who had acquired a new vehicle in the past 10 years.
The SUV/crossover body style as defined by the research includes SUV and crossover models collectively. In addition, the second vehicle may be an addition to the household fleet, not necessarily a replacement.
Falling sedan loyalty
Libby said falling sedan loyalty was also noteworthy.
In 2012, consumer loyalty for sedans sat at 56 percent and has declined every year since, coming in at 49 percent through the first four months of this year, below that of SUVs/crossovers, the industry average and pickups.
IHS Markit further indicated that in the first four months of 2017, two-thirds of sedan owners that returned to market bought a new SUV/crossover, which totaled almost 300,000 transactions.
Sedan households most likely to change to an SUV/crossover are ones that have owned only one sedan, according to the analysis. IHS Markit says households that have owned two or more consecutively are defined as loyalists or superloyalists and are less likely to switch body styles.
Libby said that while sedan loyalty is down and below the industry average for the second straight year, the body style isn't going anywhere.
"While loyalty in sedans has gone down, sedans aren't going away," Libby said. "Sedans still play a significant part in the market, and that's not going away anytime soon."
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