39 Interesting Car Buying Statistics, Trends, & Analysis
Published Dec 12, 2018
Car Sales Statistics for 2018
There are a few trends in automotive sales that are worth noting. Passenger car sales are dropping, while SUV’s and crossovers are increasing in sales for 2018. Another trend we are starting to see is how the public is becoming more acceptant of self-driving vehicles compared to 2017. However, most consumers are still not willing to pay extra for this feature or for electric vehicles. This makes sense because most consumers are still in the market for a traditional gasoline/diesel type engine.
- General Motors is currently ranked as the top automotive maker in the United States in 2018 with a market share of 16.48%. Followed by Toyota Motor Corp. with 14.72%, then Ford with 14.44%. (Goodcarbadcar)
- Passenger car sales dropped below 30% of the market share in August 2018 for the first month ever. (USA Today)
- Sales of mid-size (15.6% decrease) and compact cars (13.6% decrease) fell in August 2018, while compact crossovers and SUV’s rose about 14.8% of the market share. (USA Today)
- 47% of people in United States think fully self-driving vehicles will not be safe in 2018, compared to 74% in 2017. (Deloitte)
- 38% of people in the United States are unwilling to pay the extra money for vehicles equipped with a self-driving feature. 33% of people are unwilling to pay extra for electric vehicles. (Deloitte)
- 80% of consumers in the United States still prefer gasoline/diesel as their engine type, 15% prefer hybrid electric, and only 3% prefer battery electric. (Deloitte)
- Industry experts predict that the average digital ad expenditure for the automotive industry will exceed $14 billion by 2020. (Oppmax)
Car Buying Consumer Statistics and Trends
Millennials and baby boomers are both using a digital platform as a tool to research before purchasing. A majority of the time spent researching is done online now, but a brick and mortar dealership is still very valuable. A majority of consumers still want to either test drive or see the car in person before making their final decision. Since a lot of the research is done by the consumer, they will form their own opinions before entering the dealership. Auto dealerships and manufacturers need to maintain a consistent message online and at their physical location.
- 58% of drivers expect to use their current vehicle until the very last mile before purchasing another. (Oppmax)
- Over 66% of consumers in United States take less than three months and spend less than 10 total hours of research for their car purchase in 2018. (Deloitte)
- Car buyers on average spend 14:29 hours shopping for a car. 61% of it is done online, while 21% of it is done at the dealership. (Cox Automotive)
- Millennials spend on average 16.9 weeks for their purchase decision versus Baby Boomers who take on average 15.7 weeks. (V12Data)
- 8 out of 10 shoppers need to see the vehicle in person, and 7 out of 10 shoppers want to test drive before purchasing vehicle. (Deloitte)
- 75% of all car buyers reported that they intend to purchase their top of mind brand, or the highest quality brand through unaided awareness. Quality is way more important than quantity. (Nielsen)
- Only 55% of OEM/Brand sites and 53% of dealer websites have met consumer expectations. This includes expectations for in-dealer digital tools, dealer/manufacturer communications, and digital support for trade-in, configurations, or pricing tools. (Deloitte)
- Customers who rent a car from Enterprise Holdings’ brands are 55% more likely than the average consumer to purchase a new vehicle within 6 months of rental. (Wharton)
Buyer Demographics and What They Want
Consumers over the age of 40 make up a majority of car buyers in 2018. To contrast that, the percentage of car ownership among 18-34 year olds has been decreasing for some time now. Regardless if it is a used car or new, consumers in 2018 value Bluetooth/USB connectivity as a feature for their next vehicle.
- The top three features consumers are looking for in a new car are safety (21%), Bluetooth/USB connectivity (15%), and a spacious interior (11%). (Crimson Hexagon)
- The top three features consumers are looking for in a used car are Bluetooth/USB connectivity (31%), low miles (28%), and automatic transmission (17%). (Crimson Hexagon)
- Consumers over the age of 40 account for 75% of all new car sales. (Nielsen)
- 38% of millennial consumers say that would consult social media in making their next car purchase. (Wharton)
- Car ownership among 18-34 year olds has dropped 30% in the past five years. Due to the rising price of automobiles and opportunities with ride sharing services. (Forbes)
- Boomers watch 154% more live TV than millennials, and millennials spend 173% more time on TV-connected devices. Millennials spend more time on their computers and mobile devices. (Nielsen)
Car Buying Consumer Habits
A majority of consumers do not know what car to buy when starting their purchase process. They will resort to 3rd party sites over manufacturer or dealership sites. Auto dealerships may want to focus in on loyalty programs; customers tend to return to the dealership where they previously purchased a vehicle. Different demographics look at car pricing differently, some view the monthly costs as being more useful compared to the total price.
- 60% of shoppers are unsure of which car to buy when starting research on their next vehicle. (Tubular Insights)
- 61% (55% in the previous year) of total buyers in 2018 NEED a new vehicle versus 39% (45% in the previous year) that WANT a new vehicle. (Cox Automotive)
- Car buyers spend 62% of their time spent on various sites on 3rd party sites, followed by 13% on OEM/Manufacturer sites, and 12% on dealership sites. (Cox Automotive)
- 67% of consumers visit only one or two dealerships before making a purchase. (Netsertive)
- 49% of the initial contact with a dealership is done through walk-ins. 26% through phone, and 17% through email. (Cox Automotive)
- 53% of car buyers look for monthly payment information first, while 47% look at the total price of the vehicle. Generally, females, younger age groups, lower income consumers, and those with children are more likely to be interested in monthly payment price. (Cox Automotive)
- 40% of customers purchased/leased from the same dealership where they previously made their decision. Compared to 34% in 2017. (Cox Automotive)
Digital Side of Car Buying Process
Most consumers prefer to do their own research online and a majority of the time they are researching car prices. They are using consumer reviews, search engines, and dealer websites to influence their decision. YouTube is becoming a very popular resource for potential car buyers. Auto dealerships and manufacturers should utilize YouTube videos in order to influence and convert their customers online, where a majority of their time is spent. A lot of consumers use their mobile devices to research, so a user-friendly and consistent web presence is important.
- 83% of car shoppers expected that online buying technology would help with their purchasing decision. 80% said they would likely use some form of online payment. (Wharton)
- The highest online activity conducted by online car shoppers is researching car prices with 71%. (V12Data)
- 70% of people who used YouTube as part of their car buying process were influenced by what they watched. This is much higher than TV, newspapers, or magazines. (Tubular Insights)
- Time spent watching test drives, features and options, and walkthroughs, has doubled on YouTube in the past year. (Tubular Insights)
- 22% of buyers purchase the make and model of the car they first searched. (Tubular Insights)
- 62% of purchasers would rather spend time online researching, compared to 29% that would prefer to speak to sales person. (Oppmax)
Dealership Experience and Trends
The overall attitude by consumers of dealerships is disappointing. Consumers either do not trust the dealership or they think the process takes too long. This can be resolved by the auto dealership implementing a pressure-free shopping experience paired with transparent pricing. They could also provide options for digital purchasing, which many consumers would prefer. Dealerships are still highly valuable to consumers though. Even though they don’t trust dealerships, consumers would rather negotiate in person than online.
- 67% trust that the dealership gave them the best deal. This can be increased through simple, pressure-free shopping and transparent pricing. (Cox Automotive)
- 46% satisfaction level for how long the car buying process takes at the dealership. 59% satisfaction level for interactions with the financing department. This can be fixed through shortening the purchase making process, loyalty retention, and options for digital purchasing. (Cox Automotive)
- 1 in 4 buyers are unaware of the F&I products and services offered by dealership. For example, 84% of consumers were not aware that their dealership offered lost or stolen key replacement. (Cox Automotive)
- 76% of consumers believe they can get a better price through negotiations in-person vs online. (Retail Dive)
- 72% of consumers would visit a dealership more often if the buying process was improved. 54% of consumers would buy from a dealership that offers a better experience, even if they didn’t have the lowest price. (V12Data)
Overall Car Buying Trends and Analysis
Car consumers are increasingly turning to digital platforms to research and get pricing on cars, but still want to see a car in person before committing. Digital research is no longer performed solely on manufacturer and auto industry websites as consumers turn to social media and YouTube to get impartial opinions from industry outsiders. To see where the auto industry and buying patterns are headed, check out my predictions on auto industry trends for 2019 and beyond.
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