GM, Ford Tops In Loyalty

General Motors took top honors in the Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer category, while Ford won the Overall Loyalty to Make, per IHS Markit’s 25th Annual Automotive Loyalty awards.

Clearly, GM is doing something right. This is the sixth consecutive win for the automaker in the category -- its 17th in the last 25 years. 

GM’s 69% retention of its customers is attributed to its popular SUV and pickup lineup, with 93% of returning owners purchasing another GM utility vehicle or pickup truck in 2020, per IHS.

With the automaker’s recent intense emphasis on electric vehicles (including a new campaign, “Everybody In,”)  it will be interesting to see how many of GM’s current old-school internal combustion engine (ICE) customers will be willing to shift to an all-electric alternative just to stay with the brand.



Ford took top honors in the Overall Loyalty to Make category, winning its 11th consecutive award.  This marks 20 wins for the brand in this category since the awards' inception.  

The brand’s leadership in pickups contributed to its industry-leading loyalty level of 63%, with F-Series accounting for 39% of the brand’s make loyal volume in 2020.

Loyalty is determined when a household that owns a new vehicle returns to market and purchases or leases another new vehicle of the same make, model or manufacturer, per IHS Markit.

This year’s awards are based on an analysis of 12.4 million new retail vehicle registrations in the U.S. during the 2020 calendar year. The newly acquired vehicle may be either a replacement or an addition to the household fleet.

Loyalty is an important influencer of market share as the opportunity for sales growth continues to contract, says Joe LaFeir, senior vice president and automotive business line leader, IHS Markit. 

“In such a competitive environment, OEMs have been diligent in their strategic marketing efforts, and it’s clear these initiatives have been a core focus for this year’s winners,” LaFeir says in a release.

With industry investment in green technology increasing, IHS added a new category to this year’s awards, recognizing an automaker’s ability to retain an owner of a hybrid or electric vehicle, and also have them purchase another alternative powertrain vehicle upon returning to market.

Tesla also captured three awards this year across various categories, including Alternative Powertrain Loyalty to Make. The brand also won Asian Market Loyalty to Make and Highest Conquest Percentage, a category in which it is a repeat winner.

Eighty-one percent of former ICE drivers who purchased an electric vehicle bought a Tesla, per IHS.

In part, IHS pins that on the market options for EVs, which are growing but are still pretty slim. Tesla is the name most people associate with electric cars, and the company has had a leg-up on newer competition in terms of prepping its cars’ performance and the infrastructure required to keep it charged.

Non-white consumers accounted for 34% of all vehicle registrations in 2020, making them a key focus of manufacturers and brands looking for sales opportunities in a declining market. 

IHS acknowledges four brands for their efforts in retaining a diverse customer base.  For African American Loyalty to Make, Ford and Toyota tied for leadership in 2020, each achieving a loyalty rate of 63% among African Americans. The Asian Loyalty to Make award was captured for the first time by Tesla, with 55% loyalty. Toyota was recognized for the Hispanic Loyalty to Make award, with 64% loyalty. 

Other award winners include Alfa Romeo for Most Improved Loyalty to Make. An aggressive lease strategy and increased interest in the Alfa Romeo Stelvio helped the brand increase its make loyalty, rising 9 percentage points from 2019.

Lincoln again topped the Overall Loyalty to Dealer category, as more Lincoln owners returned to the same Lincoln dealer for another Lincoln than any other brand during the 2020 calendar year.

Genesis claimed its first ever loyalty award, winning the inaugural award for Highest Conversion of Conquests to Loyalists, which recognizes brands for their ability to keep their conquests within the brand when returning to market. 

Despite the brand still being in its infancy, the continued popularity of the G70, along with a redesigned G80, helped to keep previous Genesis conquests from defecting. 

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