Saturday, December 8, 2007

Toyota no. 1 in customer loyalty, GM close behind

Toyota Motor Company does a better job than any car company in America of keeping its customers coming back, according to data from J.D. Power and Assoc. General Motors ranks second in customer retention.

Among recent new car buyers whose previous car was a Toyota, Lexus or Scion 68.9 percent bought another Toyota Motor Co. (Charts) product. That's similar to Toyota's retention rate last year, according to J.D. Power.

Meanwhile, owners of Chevrolet, GMC, Pontiac, Saab or other GM vehicles bought a GM (Charts, Fortune 500) product again 64.7 percent of the time, according to J.D. Power.

That represent's about a three percentage point improvement over last year for GM.

The upward shift for GM likely represents a genuine trend, said Neal Oddes,, director of product research and analysis at J.D. Power and Associates, and not just a blip.

Oddes cited improved quality, in general, and the introduction of several well received products in the last couple of years as factors that are probably driving greater repeat business for GM.

Ford Motor Co. (Charts, Fortune 500) ranks fifth, coming in behind American Honda Motor Co. and BMW of North America. Ford, which makes Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Jaguar and Land Rover and which owns a controlling interest in Mazda, brings back 54.4 percent of buyers, according to J.D. Power.

Honda of America (Charts) sells Honda and Acura vehicles while BMW sells BMW and Mini.

DaimlerChrysler, which included Mercedes-Benz, Chrylser, Dodge and Jeep, retained a little more than half its customers. DaimlerChrysler split into two separate companies earlier this year.

J.D. Power usually publishes customer retention by brand - for example Chevrolet owners who buy another Chevrolet or Lexus owners who buy another Lexus - in its annual Customer Retention Study which was released Thursday.

In that study, the Toyota and Lexus brands ranked first and second with Chevrolet, the top ranking Detroit-based brand, coming in fifth.

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