A demand for pre-orders through local dealerships and an increasing desire to purchase vehicles online top Cars.com’s automotive trends for the year. The company’s internal data notes that the market has seen a double-digit increase in prices and a narrowing market value gap between new and used vehicles, factors which have not slowed consumer demand.
According to the company’s recent consumer survey, “60% of consumers stated the inventory shortage and price increases haven’t changed their purchase timeline.” In fact, “some consumers with ongoing concerns about the pandemic and vehicle shortages decided to delay their purchase over the past two years, creating strong, pent-up demand for vehicles this year.”
Fuelled by inventory shortages, Cars.com also reported that pre-orders have skyrocketed. Their consumer survey showed that 41% of recent shoppers plan to pre order their next vehicle through a local dealer. The survey also showed that of the 16% of consumers who have recently pre ordered a vehicle, 98% said they “had a good experience and would do it again.”
The company noted that “pre-ordering allows shoppers to get what they want without being restricted by current availability…chip shortages and other inventory challenges.” The survey also revealed that consumers spent approximately 19 hours researching features, colour, and trim level on Cars.com before selecting a dealership to pre-order from.
Digital purchases have also seen significant increases “with 38% of current car shoppers expecting to complete the entire buying process online and another 38% intending to purchase a vehicle in person but complete all the paperwork online, saving them hours at the dealership.” This trend is supported by changes at the dealership level including instant loan approvals and online financing.
The survey noted that there are new opportunities for dealers with buy-back programs looking to acquire vehicles directly from consumers; 41% of the company’s in-market audience is hoping to sell their current vehicle before purchasing a new make or model.
Other trends observed in the Cars.com survey include an impact of the changing workforce on car culture, and an increased enthusiasm for electric vehicles, with 66% of American respondents indicating they were more likely to buy an EV after the Biden administration’s proposed EV infrastructure changes and incentives.