The 2009 Hummer H3

What auto manufacturer will attract the orphaned brand loyalists?

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As the cars in America age, making it the time to buy new cars, which brand will get the bulk of the former loyalists to brands like Hummer, Pontiac, Mercury, Saturn, Saab, Eagle, Geo, Plymouth and Oldsmobile that are now orphaned?

It is an excellent question raised by Jim Gorzelany, a contributor to Forbes, just today. He credits R.L. Polk & Associates, that all such owners of any generation are most likely to gravitate to Ford cars and trucks, followed by Mercedes-Benz in second and well known brands such as Nissan, Honda, Chevrolet, Hyundai and Toyota taking the bulk of the remainder in all demographic groups.

Polk projects something like18 million vanished brand cars and light trucks are still around from 16 makes that are now pushing up daisies. These consumers represent “a golden opportunity for new vehicle manufacturers,” according to Tom Libby, Polk’s lead forecaster for North America. “These drivers are forced to shop for a new brand regardless of their satisfaction with their current car or light truck. Right now this pool of orphan owners is exceptionally large and offers a rare opportunity to those automakers and dealers willing to step up.”

That’s why brands are looking over former customer lists to find former buyers and offer special incentives to keep them in the fold. General Motors, for instance, is offering owners trading in a Saturn from as far back as 1999 $1,000 cash rebates towards certain models, including the Cadillac CTS, Chevrolet Cruze and GMC Acadia.

Meanwhile, Ford and Lincoln dealers are writing off early termination of Mercury lease vehicles with no penalty, overlooking as many as six payments as an incentive to buy or lease a new car.

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