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Hyundai Tops All Brands in J.D. Power Customer Retention Study

Here is another important accolade that Hyundai has racked up since the beginning of 2012: it is number one in customer retention - besting its leading competition by 4 percentage points.

The J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Customer Retention Study shows Hyundai is highest among all automotive brands. It earned the top spot by improving its retention rate from 60 percent in 2010 to 64 percent in 2011.

Following Hyundai in the rankings are Ford and Honda, in a tie, each with a customer retention rate of 60 percent. Jeep posts the greatest improvement in customer retention rate from 2010, improving by 17 percentage points to 51 percent in 2012. Overall customer retention has improved by one percentage point in 2012 to 49 percent, compared with 48 percent in 2010. In 2012, 19 of the 33 ranked brands have improved their customer retention rates from 2010, while 14 have declined.

What's impressive about this study is it does not reflect the current hot-selling generation of Hyundai products but they probably had a lot to do with it. After all, why walk away from a winning brand, especially when you were already a loyal Hyundai customer?

Now in its ninth year, the study measures the rate at which automotive brands retain their existing customers and examines the reasons why customers remain loyal. Most new car buyers, including lessees, typically hold on to their cars for at least 36 months. New car buyers in 2011 would have bought 2008 and older models. They were good but not great.

According to J.D. Power and Associates, Hyundai's increased retention rate is shaped by its expanding model lineup, as well as the fact that perceptions of the brand's quality and appeal have continued to improve during the past decade. The 2012 Customer Retention Study is based on responses from 117,001 new-vehicle buyers and lessees, of which 73,733 replaced a vehicle that was previously acquired new. In addition to customer retention, the study also measures the rate at which each automotive brand captures customers from its competitors, known as conquesting.

“We are proud that Hyundai owners show their brand loyalty by choosing to buy another Hyundai vehicle over 60 percent of the time,” said Dave Zuchowski, executive vice president, National Sales, Hyundai Motor America. “Once they experience the styling, comfort and value of Hyundai vehicles, it’s no surprise that they elect to stick with the Hyundai brand. We are thrilled that our vehicles and our dealers are earning the respect and loyalty of our customers.”

One in three new-vehicle owners who switched brands say their previous brand didn’t make the type of vehicle they wanted, indicating that striking the right combination of model offerings and vehicle appeal is critical to retaining customers, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Customer Retention Study information that was supplied to TorqueNews.

“Many automotive brands are expanding their array of models in an attempt to capture more buyers, but this isn’t enough in and of itself,” said Raffi Festekjian, director of automotive product research at J.D. Power and Associates. “Manufacturers need to integrate specific attributes and features that delight vehicle owners to maximize their opportunity to both retain customers and conquest from other brands. Manufacturers also need to ensure owners are satisfied with the quality, residual values and ownership costs of their vehicles.”