According to R. L. Polk & Co.’s mid-year Polk Automotive Loyalty Award rankings, General Motors remains the leader in overall manufacturer loyalty through the first half of the 2002 model year (October 2001 – March 2002), while Ford Motor Company’s Ford Division retains its lead in the overall make category.

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

Overall, the latest Polk loyalty results show little change on the 2001 model year. Eleven of the 14 mid-year leaders won in their respective categories for the 2001 model year. However, new leaders have emerged in three categories.

Threatening two-time winner Subaru Forester, the Honda CRV emerged as mid-year leader in the compact SUV segment, eleven percentage points higher than the overall category average.

The Buick Century, winner in the mid-size car segment from 1998 through 2000 model years, recaptured its lead. So far, the Century’s loyalty rate is 10 percentage points higher than the segment average.

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The Cadillac Escalade leads the full-size SUV segment with a seven percent lead over the second ranked Chevrolet Suburban, the winner of the Polk Automotive Loyalty Award in this segment for the past two model years.

In 2001, the mid-year leaders in the overall manufacturer and overall make categories captured the Polk Automotive Loyalty Award at the end of the model year. In contrast, just over half of the mid-year leaders in the 12 model segments in 2001 won the award when the model year ended.

“Various incentive and extended warranty programs offered by manufacturers during the last half of 2002 will play a key role in determining the final winners of the 2002 Polk Automotive Loyalty Awards to be presented in January,” said Melissa Mullen, manager and industry consultant of loyalty at R. L. Polk & Co.

“Building a strong base of loyal customers is a core foundation for success in the automotive industry. The ability to continually measure and monitor customer loyalty provides automotive manufacturers with a powerful means for gaining a strong competitive advantage,” Mullen said.

             2002 Model Year:  Mid-Year Loyalty Rankings
                      October 2001 – March 2002

CATEGORY                LEADER              LOYALTY %  AVG.INDUSTRY
                                                          LOYALTY %

Manufacturer Loyalty    General Motors*       68.5%        54.6%
Make Loyalty            Ford Division*        56.8%        43.6%
Small Car               Ford Focus*           22.2%        14.9%
Midsize Car             Buick Century         29.4%        19.1%
Large Car               Buick LeSabre*        39.2%        25.3%
Luxury Car              Cadillac DeVille*     39.7%        19.0%
Prestige Luxury Car     Lexus LS 430*         25.8%        17.0%
Sports Car              Porsche 911*          25.2%        12.1%
Minivan                 Chrysler Town 28.3%        16.2%

& Country* 
Compact Pickup Truck    Ford Ranger*          19.7%        15.6%
Fullsize Pickup Truck   Ford F-Series*        39.6%        34.8%
Compact SUV             Honda CRV             26.0%        15.0%
Regular SUV             Mercury Mountaineer*  29.9%        18.4%
Fullsize SUV            Cadillac Escalade     33.6%        17.7%

* 2001 Polk Automotive Loyalty Award Winner