Tesla is enjoying the highest brand loyalty among US automakers, Citi analysts concluded early this year. While the brand continues to bask in a high loyalty rate, its rivals are luring a tiny percentage of its buyers, wrote S&P Global Mobility in its recent report.

Among electric compact utility vehicles, the Tesla Model Y has a 37.3 percent loyalty rate, while the Ford Mustang Mach-E is second at 18.5 percent. While 70.5 percent of Model Y owners buy another EV, the rest of them defect to gas-powered SUVs and trucks, S&P reported. That’s partially due to the large gulf in pricing between the Model Y, and Tesla's luxury EVs: Model S and Model X.

The Model Y Long Range currently starts at $50,490 before taxes, fees, and incentives after Tesla removed the lower-priced standard range variant from its online configurator. The Model S starts at $74,990, while the Model X’s starting price is nearly $80,000 before taxes and fees.

The upcoming Cybertruck could potentially plug this gap. After Ford slashed the prices of the F-150 Lightning in July 2023 to a starting MSRP of just under $50,000, CEO Elon Musk tweeted that it was still “somewhat expensive,” hinting that the Cybertruck might undercut Ford's electric truck.

Some Model S buyers also defect to non-Tesla vehicles. The luxury electric sedan is now over a decade old, and loyalty rates naturally decline when a vehicle ages, as per the report. 3.4 percent of Model S buyers switch to the Lucid Air, followed by the Rivian R1T at 1.8 percent, Mercedes-Benz EQS at 1.6 percent and Rivian R1S at 1.2 percent.

Remember that these are negligible migration numbers, but it's nonetheless interesting to know where Tesla buyers head for shopping when they're not buying a Tesla again. On a larger scale, the Austin-headquartered brand continues to rule to roost. Nearly 60 percent of Model S owners purchase another Tesla, while a whopping 72.8 percent of Model 3 owners also return to the brand.

A previous S&P study stated that 28.6 percent of Tesla buyers switched directly from legacy carmakers like Honda and Toyota. That said, the latest study is based on 12-month rolling data through June 2023, and might not be applicable to older buyers.

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