Ford and Chevy Are Losing Buyers after Discontinuing Compact Cars

Joey Capparella
Photo credit: Chevrolet, Ford

From Car and Driver

  • A new report from Edmunds.com shows a decline in brand loyalty since Ford and Chevy ended production of the Focus and Cruze compact cars.
  • Fewer Focus and Cruze drivers are trading in their vehicles for new Ford and Chevy models in 2019 compared to 2016.
  • The Ford Escape and Chevy Equinox crossovers are among the top vehicles that owners trade in Focus and Cruze for. So are competitors such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla.

Ford and Chevy are losing a loyal set of buyers since discontinuing the Focus and Cruze compact cars, according to a new report from Edmunds.com. Brand-loyalty data shows that fewer Focus and Cruze owners in 2019 are buying another Ford or Chevy for their next vehicle than they did in 2016, with Focus brand loyalty dropping from 40 to 33 percent and Cruze brand loyalty dropping from 57 to 45 percent.

The data also shows that competitors such as Toyota and Honda are gaining from Ford and Chevy's loss. Because the compact-car segment still makes up a significant 9.1 percent of all new-vehicle sales this year, Focus and Cruze buyers are trading in for competitor models including the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla at higher rates. Both the Civic and Corolla are increasingly being bought by customers trading in a Focus or Cruze. Through October 2019, Honda reported Civic sales up 0.6 percent and Toyota reported Corolla sales down 0.3 percent.

To be fair, Ford and Chevy's crossover offerings including the Equinox, Trax, Escape, and EcoSport are also benefiting from the discontinuation of the Cruze and Focus. More people are trading in their Focuses and Cruzes for these small crossovers than before. While this may be better for these companies' bottom lines, as these SUVs generally cost more than the compacts they effectively replace, it's a loss for consumers looking for affordable new cars. The Chevy Equinox's base price is $6125 higher than the Cruze's, and the 2020 Ford Escape's base price is $7255 higher than the Focus's, although it's tough to make a direct comparison because 2018 was the last model year for the Focus.

Edmunds also states that even buyers trading in Focuses and Cruzes for small SUVs are defecting to Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, and Kia in increasing numbers. The report also predicts that brand loyalty will likely decline even more in the future as more Ford and Chevy small-car owners search for replacements for their vehicle.

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