Westlake Village, California – Mercedes-Benz has the most loyal customers in the industry, while Suzuki and Saab trail the list, according to a new survey by J.D. Power and Associates.

The 2009 Customer Retention Study measures the percentage of vehicle owners and lessees who replace a previously-purchased new vehicle with another from the same brand. Retaining existing owners is critical to a brand’s market success, particularly in challenging market conditions.

The study found that resale value has increased in importance by 12 percentage points in 2009 from 2008, while the importance of vehicle quality has increased by six percentage points. In 2008, the most important reasons for staying with a brand were safety, fuel economy, and deals or incentives. Resale value and quality have also increased in importance as reasons why brands conquest new customers from competitors, along with appearance and styling.

“Although there are some signs of economic recovery, the outlook remains uncertain, so for many new-vehicle buyers, high resale value and quality are particularly important considerations that are driving purchase behaviour,” said Raffi Festekjian, director of automotive product research. “Whether manufacturers are striving to increase loyalty or conquesting buyers from other brands, offering attractively-styled models and having strong customer perceptions of resale value and quality are critical.”

Mercedes-Benz ranked highest in retaining vehicle owners, and improved its retention rate by eight percentage points from 2008, to 67 per cent in 2009. It also marked the highest rate ever attained by a manufacturer since the inception of the study seven years ago. Following was Honda at 64 per cent, and Toyota at 61 per cent.

Mini and Porsche posted the greatest improvement in retention rates from 2008, each improving 14 percentage points in 2009. For Mini, the improvement was driven primarily by incentives and customer perceptions of resale value, while Porsche’s increase was due to resale value, fuel economy and quality.

The 2009 retention rates are:

Mercedes-Benz 67%
Honda 64%
Toyota 61%
Lexus 57%
Subaru 57%
Ford 56%
Nissan 55%
Chevrolet 54%
BMW 52%
Porsche 52%

Industry Average 48%

Hyundai 47%
Audi 45%
Volkswagen 44%
Cadillac 43%
Mini 43%
Dodge 42%
Lincoln 39%
Acura 38%
GMC 38%
Hummer 38%
Kia 37%
Jeep 34%
Mazda 31%
Scion 31% (not yet sold in Canada)
Mercury 29% (not sold in Canada)
Volvo 29%
Pontiac 28%
Chrysler 27%
Jaguar 26%
Buick 25%
Infiniti 25%
Land Rover 25%
Mitsubishi 25%
Saturn 25%
Suzuki 24%
Saab 9%

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