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Source: Marketing Daily article by Kari Greenberg

For the first time, Ford has taken the brass ring in the 15th annual Polk Automotive Loyalty Awards. Polk folk presented the award at the yearly Automotive News World Congress in Detroit.

The Detroit firm defines loyalty as being a trait of a household that after owning a new vehicle, purchases or leases another new vehicle of the same model or make. Polk tracks those numbers throughout the year. It says its Automotive Loyalty Awards are presented to OEMs that "demonstrate a manufacturer's ability to retain owners over repeat buying cycles."

The firm says that in general, automotive loyalty rates are up. "Our research has shown that an OEM's core owner base is very loyal and represents a significant percentage of new vehicle sales during tough economic times," said Brad Smith, director of loyalty management at Polk. "In addition, with an overall increase in loyalty to Asian brands, Ford winning top manufacturer honors is a testament to their success in the U.S. marketplace," he continued.

Ford won in several categories: Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer; Overall Loyalty to Make; Ethnic Market Make -- African-American; and Mid/Full-Size Pickup for its F-Series truck lineup. This year is the first since 1999 that Ford has won the Overall Loyalty to Manufacturer category.

Kia won Polk's "Most Improved Loyalty to Make" award, which the firm first awarded last year. The award goes to the automaker with the largest percentage-point improvement in customer loyalty over one model year. Kia's loyalty was up 5.9 percentage points. Toyota won for top brand for loyalty among Asian-American and Hispanic consumers.

Polk also awarded individual vehicle model awards for the auto segment in which they compete, such as compact car or luxury sedan. Mini Cooper was the compact car with most loyal owners. Toyota's hybrid car, Prius, had the most loyal customers among mid- and full-sized car owners. Mercedes-Benz won for its E-Class in the luxury car segment of the market.

For sports cars, a surprise given the longevity and dominance of Mustang: Chrysler LLC's Dodge Challenger has the most loyal owners, although Jaguar's XK had the most loyal owners in the luxury sports car segment. Chrysler also won for the Town & Country minivan.