In the fickle world of new automotive sales, Ford Motor Company and General Motors Corporation have topped the US customer loyalty stakes – at least for the first six months of 2004.

The R L Polk Manufacturer Loyalty Excelerator report has been up and running since 1995, defining a loyal household as one which purchases (or leases) another vehicle of the same model, make or manufacturer as a previous new purchase. It provides a taster for the forthcoming annual Polk Automotive Loyalty Awards, held in the top vehicle manufacturing hub of the world – Detroit.

GM adds to its four-year loyalty lead, with 65.7% of its buyers returning for future purchases. Ford, meanwhile, maintains its eight-year lead at the make level as 57.5% customers remain loyal.

Nudging the Ford Focus out of its top spot in the Small Car segment is GM's Saturn Ion. Indeed, GM vehicles replace those of Ford's in four categories of the report, whilst Ford hangs on to its Pickup and Full Size SUV leads with the Ford Ranger, Ford F Series and Expedition vehicles.

Polk's Loyalty Solutions team manager, Melissa Travers explains the changes as "brief surges" to top positions of the categories caused by "attractive redesigns" and "enticing incentive offers".

Some models are back in vogue after falling from favour – the Cadillac DeVille again leads the Luxury Car category after toppling the Lincoln Town Car from its 2003 post.

Citing the "fluid nature of the automotive business", Travers also highlights newcomers to the scene such as the Ford Mustang, which tops the Sports Car category.

[A WARC article, 'How people buy cars', can be found in issue 447 of Admap, February 2004. See for details.]

Data sourced from: Daily Research News Online; additional content by WARC staff