Study: Millennials favor performance vehicles

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Ford Motor Co. has placed an emphasis on performance vehicles, and a new study suggests those vehicles resonate well with the largest group of car buyers — millennials.

MaritzCX, the world’s largest customer experience technology company, found those Ford customers age 18-34 are twice as likely to cite “fun-to-drive” as the most important reason for vehicle purchase compared to millennials who shop for other brands.

“These younger customers come into Ford looking for performance and vehicles that are fun to drive,” said Erich Merkle, Ford’s sales analyst. “We’ve been working to open up the breadth of our performance vehicles across our entire lineup. That gives us an advantage.”

Since the start of the year, the Dearborn automaker has introduced a new Focus RS, F-150 Raptor, Mustang Shelby GT350 and Shelby GT350R and GT supercar.

Ford said it plans to introduce 12 or more performance vehicles by 2020.

Merkle said sales of Ford performance vehicles — which also include its Fiesta and Focus STs, and Explorer and Edge sports packages, among other vehicles — are up 30 percent this year compared to 2014.

“Younger buyers are hard to satisfy,” said Dave Fish, senior vice president, expert services, MartizCX. “Between styling/performance, rebates, and good in dealership treatment, Ford appears to have a edge on the competitive millennial buyers.”

The Maritz study also found millennials favor good fuel economy and a larger amount of Ford millennial customers (19 percent) identify as Ford loyalists compared to other brands (9 percent).

The study also said that millennials who buy Fords list the salesperson at the dealership as the “most influential source of information” at a higher clip than millennials who buy other brands.

“When they get to the dealership, they are pleasantly surprised,” Fish said.

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