One year after brand's death, Pontiac owners show loyalty to GM

(October 28, 2011) SANTA MONICA, Calif. — One year after the last remaining Pontiac dealers shut down for good on October 31 2010, General Motors has managed to maintain — and even grow — the loyalty rate of former Pontiac owners, according to data analyzed by found that 39.9 percent of Pontiac owners who traded in for a new car this year opted for a GM vehicle. This retention rate is eight-percentage-points greater than GM's retention rate in 2010, and represents the highest retention rate since 2007, when the rate was also 39.9 percent.

This year GM's Chevrolet brand has been most successful in retaining former Pontiac owners, with 28.1 percent of them choosing Chevy as their new brand.'s analysis discovered that Chevy sales to former Pontiac owners was particularly strong in January and February of this year when GM made aggressive incentives plays to retain old customers and conquest new ones.

"Any time a manufacturer shuts down a brand, there's a concern that its consumers will shift loyalties to another company," says Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at

"General Motors took a calculated risk that it could retain Pontiac drivers under its umbrella, and the gamble appears to have paid off — with even more success than they enjoyed in previous years when Pontiac was still an option for returning customers."

Ford Motor Co., meanwhile, has been the most successful outside brand to conquest Pontiac owners this year. An estimated 9.4 percent of former Pontiac owners have jumped to Ford in 2011, but the rate is down from last year's reported 12.4 percent. Honda and Toyota have each managed to conquest an estimated 7.4 percent of Pontiac customers, which is for both brands a lower rate than last year.

When Edmunds' first reported the news of Pontiac's demise in 2009, the percentage of people who traded their Pontiac for another Pontiac was 16 percent. By comparison, 50 percent of GM car owners at the time traded in their vehicle for another GM model, according to's data.