Make Loyalty

New Luxury Products Conquest Non-Luxury Owners

One of the most competitive parts of the U.S. new vehicle market is the lower end of the luxury space, where the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, Audi A3 sedan and BMW 320 all serve as gateways, at least on the car side, from the non-luxury makes up to the prestige brands. An IHS Automotive analysis of Polk new vehicle registration data indicates that the CLA-Class and A3 sedan are both succeeding in this effort as both appear on the list of models most likely to conquest non-luxury drivers. But they...R...
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Luxury Automotive Leadership Now a Three-Way Contest

There is a scene in the movie, “The Right Stuff” (about the Project Mercury program in the early 1960s to send an American into space) in which the astronaut candidates are undergoing endurance testing. One of the tests involves blowing into a tube for as long as possible with just one breath. The camera zeroes in on two of the participants, the presumed front-runners, who are frantically competing with one another, watching each other every second and seemingly about to burst at the seams to...R...
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Land Rover and Dodge Appeal to the Young Automotive Buyer

Today's new vehicle buyer is just under 52 years old, up slightly from two years ago and about a year from 2009. Among luxury (non-exotic) makes, Land Rover has the youngest buyers, followed by Infiniti. The typical buyer of every Land Rover model is under 50, with the LR4 lowest at 46. Infiniti's average age has dropped by more than a year since 2011, due in part to the popularity of the Infiniti JX crossover (47.1 years). The Infiniti QX56 and QX80 are the largest Infinitis available, but...
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Jeep Off to Extraordinary Start in 2014

As the automotive world focuses on the GM recall crisis, other stories are getting less visibility than they otherwise would. One of these is Jeep and its amazing start to 2014. Consider the following:
  • In the first three months of 2014, Jeep dealers delivered 145,839 new trucks, almost 45,000 (45%) more than a year ago, the largest increase of any brand in the industry (other than the 331% increase at low-volume Maserati).
  • Jeep captured 3.9% of the U.S. market in the first quarter, up 1.2...
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Millennials: Buying Fewer New Cars, but More Brand Loyal

A new study by the Pew Research Center on millennials (age 18-34, also known as Generation Y) provides financial data that support new vehicle registration data collected by IHS Automotive/Polk. According to the Pew study, millennials have more student loan debt, poverty and unemployment than both the preceding generations did at the same age, and, predictably, lower levels of wealth and personal income as well. With less buying power, millennials have been less likely to purchase a new...
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Small Crossover Sales Explode in February

February U.S. car sales were driven in part by the appeal of mainstream compact crossovers. These vehicles offer the ideal combination of value for the money, good fuel economy, car-like driving characteristics, and SUV-like functionality. Midsize as well as sub-compact crossovers offer some of these advantages but not all of them. Compact crossover sales in February drove industry results at the segment, model and make levels. At the segment level, the February results were extraordinary.... Rea...
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Are Brands Important?

In “Twilight of the Brands” in the February 17/24 issue of “The New Yorker,” James Surowiecki  discusses the challenges facing brands in today’s information-rich U.S. economy. Surowiecki focuses on Lululemon Athletica, a yoga apparel company that quickly became the darling of the industry and then tumbled almost overnight because of negative customer feedback. Such instantaneous customer reaction can propel a company to new heights or spell its doom in the blink of an eye, according to...Read...
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Who is Buying the Tesla Model S?

Given all the attention recently focused on Tesla, I thought it would be interesting to see who is buying the Model S. Specifically, what are customers trading in for the Model S, or what other vehicles do Model S buyers have in their garage if they are adding to their fleet? The Model S conquest data, derived from Polk new vehicle registration data, are fascinating. There are two ways of looking at the data. First, the pure conquest data show that the Model S is conquesting owners of... Read...
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The Best-of-the-Best: Automotive Loyalty Award Winners Named

It was my pleasure to be a co-presenter last night, along with Edouard Tavernier, as 33 winners were recognized for automotive loyalty and conquest during the Polk Automotive Loyalty Awards presented by IHS. For those of you unfamiliar with how owner loyalty is measured, it’s determined when a household that owns a new vehicle returns to market and purchases or leases another new vehicle of the same model or make.   This year's Polk Loyalty Awards recognized the best-of-the-best and winners...
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Five Car Brands that Excelled in 2013 and Why

U.S. car dealers delivered 15,600,199 new cars and light trucks in 2013, up 8% from 2012. This is the fourth consecutive year-over-year increase and follows three years of double-digit growth from 2010 through 2012 as the industry climbed out of the 2009-10 recession. Of the 38 makes now on the market, 29 enjoyed year-over-year increases in 2013, eight saw declines and one (Tesla) could not be compared to 2012 since it had no sales at all last year. The five makes with the largest increases... Re...
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Luxury Share of U.S. Auto Market Remains in 10-11% Range

The competition in the luxury part of the U.S. new vehicle industry has perhaps never been as intense as it is right now, and, in a related trend, new product activity in this space is as frenetic as ever. BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz continue to vie for luxury sales leadership with Audi and Cadillac aggressively trying to move up. Many of the luxury makes have been expanding into new segments, with such products as the Evoque, F-Type and CLA. There are other examples of this trend coming...
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Which Vehicles Topped Google's Search in Brazil?

When Google released its Zeitgeist 2013, a compilation of the most googled terms of the year, the Hyundai HB20 reached the top spot for the Brazilian automotive industry. It was followed by the Chevrolet Onix and Chevrolet Prisma. The new Volkswagen Golf and the Volkswagen Beetle (locally called Fusca) rounded out the Top 5. The HB20 hatchback, the Onix and the Fusca were launched late in 2012. There is no doubt the HB20 has written its success story in Brazil’s automotive history. With 3,312......
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Luxury Deliveries Climb at Year End

December brings to mind snow and cold, but for luxury dealers in the U.S., this month will be the "hottest" of the year. U.S. consumers purchase more new luxury vehicles in December than in any other month of the year, according to monthly Polk new vehicle registration data. This contrasts with the monthly tallies for the non-luxury space, where March and August are the peak months. Luxury registrations also rise in the spring, but not to the same degree as non-luxury deliveries; rather,...
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Porsche Macan: “De-Nichification” Continues

The Porsche Macan, Porsche's all-new small crossover revealed last week in Los Angeles and to be launched in the U.S. next spring, should be a "slam dunk," given the landscape of today's new vehicle market. The small luxury crossover segment is one of the fastest-growing in the industry, with registrations more than quadrupling since 2008 and share of industry up by almost the same amount (see table below). The number of small luxury crossovers in the market has doubled from four in 2008 to...
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Mercedes-Benz CLA Has a Strong Start

Monthly summaries of U.S. car and light truck sales focus on macro results such as the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR), corporate results and brand results. Micro outcomes get less publicity even though they may be as noteworthy, if not more so. For instance, there has been little mention given to the fact that Mercedes-Benz dealers delivered 4,895 CLAs in October, its second month on the market. This tally follows 2,310 sales in September. The October figure is surprisingly strong and...R...
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Smaller Powertrains Drive Jaguar Forward

After two lackluster years, Jaguar is now thriving in the U.S. In both 2011 and 2012, Jaguar suffered registration declines even though the industry recorded double-digit growth. But this year, Jaguar's registrations have jumped 25% through August when compared to a year ago. This is the fourth highest year-over-year gain among all makes (with 1,000 or more registrations) that were also on the market for all of 2012, after Porsche, Cadillac and Subaru. Jaguar's gain is almost three times the...Re...
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Which Vehicles do Canadians Love to Buy?

Seeing the Signs Every new vehicle sold is a signal to OEMs that customers want more of that type of car or truck. In essence, customers are voting with their wallets and with business interests ever focused on customer loyalty and customer retention, an OEM should be seeing the market signs. National Trend: Consumers Continue to Buy New Through the second quarter of this year (2013 Q2), new vehicle sales are once again on the rise in Canada. New vehicle registrations indicate that...
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Huge Opportunity: Orphan Owners

When car owners either trade their vehicle for a new one or add a vehicle to their household fleet, 55-60% of them choose a vehicle from the same corporation as their existing vehicle. But what about car owners whose brand has been discontinued (frequently referred to as "orphan" owners)? This is now a topical question since GM and Ford together have recently discontinued five brands. As of April, there were over 14.4 million orphan owners in the U.S. (including owners of vehicles from all...Read...
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Automotive Customer Loyalty - Who's Winning and How?

It's not always about who has the largest market share or the broadest product line. Sometimes repeat sales for OEMs and dealers are fruitful when you're a small player, too. Yesterday, Polk issued a press release of customer loyalty on automakers who beat the industry average by looking at first quarter results.  What did we find?
  • Thirteen brands exceeded the average industry increase for make loyalty when we compared buyer behavior from Q1 2012 and Q1 2013. The first three months of the...
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Flying Under the Radar, Subaru Thrives

Given that U.S. new vehicle registrations in 2012 were spread across 52 makes and 331 models, it's difficult to summarize the results concisely. This leads to a focus on the larger makes that dominate the industry. Yet one smaller make has been outperforming the industry for years and deserves some recognition. Subaru's recent performance in the U.S. has been remarkable. Two facts stand out. Subaru is the only make in the entire U.S. industry that has had five consecutive year-over-year sales...R...
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