Consumers are responding to culture shifts by seeking more control in the car buying process and doubling down on an electric future
CHICAGO, January 28, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — The work-from-anywhere culture, inventory shortages and expanding technology in both the car buying process and the cars themselves — these are the driving forces that define the automotive landscape for 2022 according to Cars.comMT (NYSE: CARS), a leading marketplace for buying cars. Despite a double-digit increase1 global prices and a narrowing market value gap between new and used cars, consumers are using the leverage they have to get the car they want, the way they want it.
“Our relationship with our environments – work, home, commerce, vacation – they all evolve, and personal vehicles are, quite literally, how many of us navigate these environments. So naturally, the way car buyers buy – and what they buy – have changed over time,” said Aaron Brangman, from Cars.com Detroit Office manager. “More vehicles are being pre-ordered through dealers as dealers continue to manage inventory shortages; more consumers are considering electric vehicles now that local personal use has become more of a factor than daily commuting longer, which makes them more attractive; and perhaps most importantly, consumer desire for personal transportation remains strong, as health and safety are always at the forefront.”
Pre-orders are becoming widespread: Some 41% of recent buyers plan to pre-order their next vehicle from a local dealership,2 and of the 16% who recently pre-ordered their car, 98% had a good experience and would do it again.3 After spending an average of 19 hours4 By researching Cars.com for the exact specs, color and trim level they want on their new car and selecting the best dealership to work with, pre-ordering allows buyers to get what they want without being limited by current availability, which has been limited by chip shortages and other inventory challenges.
Unprecedented enthusiasm for electric vehicles: About two-thirds (66%) of Americans surveyed said they were more likely to buy an EV after the Biden administration last year announced plans to support EV infrastructure nationwide and offered financial incentives to accelerate the country’s transition to EVs.5 While electric vehicle sales are growing at a slower rate, interest continues to grow. Searches for electric vehicles on Cars.com have almost doubled since 2020 with markets such as San Francisco; Los Angeles; Sacramento, California.; Seattle and denver lead the charge.1
Double-digit price increases not stopping demand: Consumers did not hesitate to purchase vehicles even though prices rose and availability fell last year. In fact, more than 60% of consumers said that the shortage of inventory and price increases had not changed their time to purchase.6 In 2021, total auto sales were 14.9 million vehicles, according to the US Bureau of Economic Analysis. Still, some consumers concerned about the pandemic and vehicle shortages have decided to delay their purchase over the past two years, creating strong pent-up demand for vehicles this year — a good thing for the auto market.
Digital car buying is accelerating: 38% of current car buyers expect to complete the entire buying process online, while 38% intend to purchase a vehicle in person but complete all paperwork online, which means saves them hours at the dealership.² With platforms like Cars.com adding new features for shoppers to do more of the online car buying from dealerships – including loan approvals instant payments and online financing – the car buying experience is changing for the better. Fortunately for consumers and dealers, digital facilitation works both ways; 41% of Cars.com’s market audience is also looking to sell their current vehicle before buying a new one, presenting new opportunities for dealers to acquire cars directly from consumers.1
Automotive culture is changing in response to the changing workforce: With the remote workforce taking control of how their time is spent throughout the day, we could see traffic patterns changing, peak retail hours changing, and a continued evolution of consumers’ relationship with their cars. Workers are already using their newfound flexibility to cross things off the to-do list, with 67% of remote workers saying they run errands throughout the day2, increasing Americans’ car use during hours previously spent in the office.
1 Cars.com internal data, 2021
2 Cars.com Consumer Survey Results December 10, 2021; 1,002 responses
3 Cars.com’s DealerRater survey, December 8-13, 2021; 11,080 responses
4 JD Power, 2021 US New Autoshopper Study
5 The results of the Cars.com survey April 2021; 1,056 responses
6 Cars.com consumer data, Q4 2021
CARS is a leading automotive marketplace platform that provides a robust set of industry-specific digital solutions that connect car buyers with sellers. Launched in 1998 with flagship Cars.com marketplace and based in Chicago, the company provides shoppers with the data, resources and digital tools needed to make informed purchasing decisions and connect seamlessly with automotive retailers. In a rapidly changing market, CARS empowers dealers and OEMs with innovative technical solutions and data-driven intelligence to better reach and influence ready-to-buy buyers, increase inventory turns and gain market share. Marlet.
In addition to Cars.com, CARS brands include Dealer Inspire, a technology provider that creates solutions that prepare dealers for the future with more efficient operations and connected digital experiences; FUEL, which gives dealers and OEMs the ability to harness the untapped power of digital video by leveraging the pure market audience of car buyers from Cars.com, and DealerRater, a leading evaluation and management of the reputation of car dealerships.
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SOURCE Cars.com Inc.