SUV and pickup truck buyers more loyal to segments than car owners

SUV and truck buyers are a loyal breed.

And while that may not be a total surprise, the strength of that loyalty might be.

About three-quarters of SUV owners who purchased a new vehicle last year and about the same percentage of pickup truck owners selected the same type of vehicle, if not the same model or brand, according to Edmunds’ Loyalty Report 2018.

040318 IL SUV and pickup truck buyers more loyal to segments than car owners

SUV owners are most loyal to the growing segment.

Consumer loyalty to SUV models increased for a fifth consecutive year in 2017 and the eighth time in nine years to 75 percent, while truck-buyer loyalty was nearly as strong, slipping just 1 percent to 74 percent from the previous year, reported Edmunds, a source of automotive information.

“While historically truck buyers have been the most fiercely loyal to their segment, the growing number of SUVs on the market has given this segment the loyalty crown,” said the Edmunds report. “While segment loyalty for trucks remains high, it has leveled off in recent years, partly because there simply aren’t as many model choices available for truck buyers as for SUV buyers.”

“In fact, due to the breadth of SUV offerings of all sizes, the segment has developed into a funnel for buyers of all types – stealing business away from both cars and pickup trucks,” said Edmunds.

The biggest loser in all of this continues to be the car segment, the report showed.

Cars-owner loyalty slipped for the fifth consecutive year to 57 percent, down from nearly 70 percent, as millions of cars owners switched to SUVs and pickup trucks.

“In 2017, passenger cars accounted for 36 percent of all new vehicles sold,” said Edmunds. “This is the lowest market share figure ever for cars and a noticeable decline from just five years ago when cars constituted half of the sales in [the] new-car market.”

Edmunds noted that “slowing sales and lower margins have caused a few major automakers to either re-evaluate the passenger car segment or abandon it completely.”

In reaching its conclusions, Edmunds examined more than 13.9 million vehicle transactions “to delve deep into what drives buyer loyalty at both the segment and the brand level,” examining “why shoppers have made such a dramatic pivot away from passenger cars toward SUVs.”

Edmunds traced the shift in consumer preferences to a combination of the recession that started in 2008 and stricter, government-mandated, fuel-efficiency standards.

“The irony of the last decade is that had the recession not happened, and had automakers not been forced to develop more fuel-efficient SUV options, the segment may have stayed limited to just those buyers who preferred larger, truck-based SUVs,” said Edmunds. “But the fact that market forces compelled automakers to create SUVs that drove and consumed fuel similar to passenger cars actually led to abandonment of the passenger car segment we’re seeing today.”

More details are available in Edmunds Loyalty Report 2018 on brand performance.

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