80 Interesting Car Buying Statistics & Trends

Car Buying Stats and Trends

How does the reality of car buying in 2021 live up to the projected trajectory?

This year, there are many interesting, informative statistics to review as we close out the year. Ranging from how COVID has impacted buyer intent and how semiconductors are affecting the car market.

Let’s dive into the latest automotive sales trends and car buyer demographics.

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Annual Car Sales Statistics

Unsurprisingly, we saw a decline in car sales in 2021 across the board, however, car sales in the US are expected to rise in 2022 due to pandemic-driven supply chain issues in the previous year. Toyota still proved to be a strong brand with a large market share. Consumers are beginning to turn to trucks and SUVs, with both grabbing a larger share of the market.

  1. The USA's car market in November 2021 is still unable to recover effectively from the pandemic. 1.04 million new cars were sold in November 2021 (-13.3%). (focus2move)Market Recovery COVID
  2. US new car sales in 2022 will rise to 15.47 million vehicles from an estimated 15.07 million in 2021. (IHS Market)New Car Sales to Rise
  3. Interest rates were just below 4 percent towards the end of October 2021. (Statista)Interest Rate Down
  4. The estimated average transaction price (ATP) for a light vehicle in the US was $42,258 in June 2021. (Kelley Blue Book)ATP Increase
  5. Trucks and SUVs picked up market shares with a year-over-year increase in average transaction prices at 1.5%. (Kelley Blue Book)Trucks and SUV Gain
  6. It has been predicted that there has been a total of 7.75 million certified pre-owned (CPO) in 2021. (Autotrader)
  7. Automakers in 2021 experienced cut production due to pandemic-driven supply chain issues. (Reuters)
  8. The top-selling SUVs were the Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and the Toyota Highlander during 2021. (autoNXT)Best Selling Models
  9. Up to March 2021, Toyota Group is on top of the market with a 12.6% market share and 2.3 million sales YTD (+7.9%). (focus2move)
  10. 1.3 million fleet units will be sold, down from 3.2 million in 2019. (CoxAuto)

Also Read: Which Cars Have the Highest Dealer Markup?
(updated monthly)

Highest Lowest Markup

Car Buying Consumer Habits & Trends

Car buyers in 2021 browse for new and used vehicles online, with the majority of auto purchase research beginning on the internet. Shoppers are very conscious of both quality and affordability, which is why many are turning to used cars and looking for deals. Buyer intent is still recovering from COVID-19 and its financial impact.

  1. Consumers tend to spend less time in the market (89 days compared to 118 in 2017) because they are motivated by needs like expiring leases, damaged vehicles, or unreliability. (CoxAuto)Less Time in Market
  2. Lease penetration fell to 23% in November 2021, down from 28% in November 2019. (JustAuto)Leasing Decrease
  3. 92% of auto purchasers research online. (ThinkWithGoogle)Online Research
  4. Nearly half of US consumers (47%) are planning to keep and maintain their current vehicle longer than they originally expected. (Deloitte)
  5. When it comes to buying cars, purchase intent is still 14% below pre-COVID-19 levels. (McKinsey)Purchase Intent Has Fallen
  6. Used vehicles may be assuming the role of the entry-level car, giving cash-strapped consumers an interesting option to consider. (Deloitte)
  7. Used car buyers are less satisfied with the overall shopping experience, with 62% satisfied with new car shopping and 60% satisfied with used car shopping. (CoxAuto)
  8. Used buyers are more focused on research and show prominent online engagement. (CoxAuto)Used Car More Research
  9. Quality was the most important factor for brands in the auto industry, with 30% of the vote. Affordability (21%) was the next most important attribute. (Brandwatch)Factors for Consumers
  10. 1/3 of consumers without a car plan on buying one in the next 6 months, with 45% of those being millennials. (EY Global)
  11. 78% are more likely to use their car to travel in a post-Coronavirus world. (EY Global)Own Vehicle
  12. In 2021, 30% postponed their car purchase and 25% switched to used cars. In 2022, it is projected that 50% will postpone their purchase and 40% will switch to used cars. (BCG)Postpone Purchase
  13. 95% of consumers use digital sources for information to find the best car and truck deals. In fact, twice as many start their research online versus at a dealer. (ThinkWithGoogle)
  14. 71% of people who don't own a car are looking to buy a gasoline or diesel vehicle, 6% plan on an EV, and 23% would consider a hybrid model. (EY Global)
  15. The average price of used cars has gone up 29% in 2021 and will continue to rise. (BCG)Used Car Price Increase
  16. Most car shoppers are looking at new and used vehicles simultaneously. (CoxAuto)
  17. Toyota has the largest CPO share of 13.8%. (CoxAuto)

Car Buyer Demographics & Preferences

This year, more consumers are valuing access to a private vehicle, which has led to many young city dwellers purchasing cars. Car shoppers are very focused on their monthly payments, leading more to turn to leasing. The majority of car buyers are in the suburbs, with the ages spread out fairly evenly across the adult generations.

  1. 1/3 of consumers value constant access to a private vehicle, more than before COVID-19, especially amongst younger consumers. (McKinsey)
  2. The percentage of buyers who use automakers’ financing and choose to lease has risen from 31% to 52% year over year, according to industry analyst J.D. Power. (MarketWatch)Lease and Finance Increase
  3. Around 6% of households preferred to lease cars. (Census.gov)
  4. Car shoppers are most focused on monthly payments when it comes to the price of their car. (CoxAuto)Monthly Payments
  5. While car sales overall were down in the summer of 2021, they were up among 18-35-year-olds due to the fear of contracting the virus on public transportation or in rideshares. (TheAtlantic)
  6. Gen X makes up 38% of all car buyers, followed by Baby Boomers at 32% and Millennials at 23%. (CoxAuto)Makes Up Car Buyers
  7. 61% of all car buyers live in suburban areas, with 63% of new buyers and 61% of used buyers being in suburban areas. (CoxAuto)
  8. 67% of new car buyers have an income above $75,000. (CoxAuto)
  9. People ages 25-54 purchase the most new vehicles, with SUV buyers tending to skew a bit older. (HedgesCompany)Public Transport Decrease
  10. Public transportation use for work has fallen by 69% from pre-COVID levels. (EY Global)

Online Car Buying Consumer Habits

As of 2021, there are several ways to purchase a car partially or totally online, but not everyone is on board. Consumers are still wary of purchases that are completely online, but they do want some aspects of the process to move to the digital space. However, some consumers (likely from the younger generations) are very interested in online and contactless auto shopping. Regardless, the car-buying process is certainly embracing digital aspects and making the shift to more online availability.

  1. Most consumers are not looking to buy their next vehicle online, interest in a fully online purchase process is limited to one in four consumers or fewer in other markets around the world. (Deloitte)
  2. Car shoppers visit an average of 4.2 websites when car shopping, with 81% visiting at least 2 websites. (CoxAuto)Purchase Offline
  3. The top reasons buyers prefer third-party sites are for researching vehicle pricing (64%), comparing vehicles/brand of interest (62%), and reading expert/consumer rating (62%). (CoxAuto)
  4. The purchase journey itself is happening online, but the purchase often still happens offline. (ThinkWithGoogle)Third Party Site Reasons
  5. Digital becomes more important along the entire purchase funnel. Less than ⅓ of younger consumers want to conduct car sales in-person at the dealership, and more respondents are interested in contactless service. (McKinsey)Young Consumers
  6. 18% of auto shoppers would buy a vehicle sooner if there was an online purchase option. (ThinkWithGoogle)
  7. Car shoppers express an increased desire to complete some of the car-shopping processes online, especially price negotiations and online financing. (Cars.com)
  8. 48% of consumers want to handle price negotiations online. (Cars.com)
  9. 42% say they want to handle financing online. (Cars.com)Online Car Buying

Car Dealerships Statistics

Dealerships were not able to operate as normal this year. When they finally did open, the majority of car buyers still sought them out, but dealerships have been adapting to car buyers’ preferences and needs.

  1. 61.4% of car buyers prefer to buy from a dealership (TheZebra)
  2. Dealerships are consumers’ largest source of financing for both new and used vehicles. (CoxAuto)Dealership Still Important
  3. Buyers spend almost half of their time at a dealer on negotiations and paperwork, and these are the top pain points. (CoxAuto)Negotiations and Paperwork
  4. New buyers spent less time visiting dealers, and more time researching/shopping online, researching through print, and talking to others. (CoxAuto)
  5. Dealerships are looking to respond to car shoppers’ needs. 77% offer online estimates for trade-ins, 72% offer online chat negotiations, 60% have some digital retailing and financing options, and 58% offer home delivery. (Cars.com)Dealership Response
  6. Both supply and demand are seeing an acceleration of dealers moving to digital. Dealers are now looking to buy and bid online. (CNBC)
  7. Many local dealers offering online sales do have virtual walkaround technology, test drives available at home, as well as delivery. (CNBC)
  8. Auto shoppers ranked the following activities by preference as good alternatives to a dealer visit: at-home test drive, review videos, digital showroom, online configurator, VR test drive, video conference. (ThinkWithGoogle)Dealer Alternatives

Ride-Sharing Service Trends

Prior to COVID-19, ride-sharing services were quite popular, especially in large cities. The pandemic has certainly increased the fear and mistrust of ridesharing, propelling people to use their own vehicles.

  1. More than half of American citizens are using public transit less or not at all. Compared to one-third of people in some cities around the world that have stopped using public transport altogether because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Moovit)
  2. 40% of respondents said they are using ride-sharing services less often since the COVID-19 outbreak in the US. Of those people, 93% said they are using personal cars more often. (Cars.com)Ride Sharing
  3. 28% of people said they distrust the cleanliness of other people’s cars. (Cars.com)
  4. 77.3% of respondents think owning a car is necessary, despite the evolution of rideshare. (TheZebra)

Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Trends

While consumers still prioritize quality and affordability over sustainability, there is a clear interest in EV and hybrid vehicles. COVID-19 impacted EV sales around the world, and the market is still recovering, but it is set up to continue growing. EV manufacturers are still working to address the most common pain points, but they are definitely closing the gap, suggesting that EV vehicles have a healthy future.

50 Interesting Electric Vehicle Statistics & Trends

  1. While many think renewable energy will change the world in the next year, few of us are prioritizing sustainability when it comes to choosing auto brands. (Brandwatch)
  2. COVID-19 slowed the growth rate of EV sales across various regions. Even so, the course seems clear for growth over the next decade. (Deloitte)
  3. The recovery in EV sales is likely to be slower in the United States than in other major regions, as manufacturers delay the launch of new cars and consumers take advantage of low oil prices. (Deloitte)
  4. By 2030, BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicle) will account for 81% of all new EVs sold. (Deloitte)EV Growth
  5. Tesla blew the other (gasoline) car brands out of the water in terms of their visibility across search and social and the growth of their following. This suggests that consumers are becoming more interested in sustainability even though they do not currently value it over affordability and quality. (Brandwatch)
  6. Based on US electric car sales statistics, with 132,000 estimated sales, the Tesla Model Y was the most sought-after electric vehicle and the 25th overall best-selling car in the US in January 2021. (Automotive News)Most Popular EV
  7. The global EV forecast is for a compound annual growth rate of 29% over the next 10 years. (Deloitte)
  8. The top three consumer priorities for EV adoption in the US as of 2021 are as follows: range (61%), followed by price (50%), and finally charging infrastructure (43%). (Autolist.com)Consumer Priorities EV
  9. As EV sales continue to grow and consumers see more of them on the roads or travel in EVs owned by family or friends, we expect personal experiences to trump concerns. (Deloitte)
  10. Recent company announcements have made it clear that there will be substantially more EV models commercially available over the next decade than previously thought. (Deloitte)
  11. While governments around the world previously offered compelling financial incentives to make the electric switch, many have considered rolling back the incentives. This could have an immediate and dramatic effect on EV sales. (Deloitte)EV Hesitation
  12. Even with more OEMs offering affordable EV models, consumers are still unwilling to pay a premium for an EV instead of its ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) equivalent. (Deloitte)

Current State & Future of Car Inventory Shortage

There is currently an inventory shortage of new cars and trucks due to high consumer demand and auto industry supply-chain problems. This is mainly due to a shortage of semiconductor computer chips and other production and delivery problems related to the Covid-19 pandemic.

  1. The global car inventory supply chain has mostly stabilized in 2021. However, there are still shortages in semiconductor chip manufacturing. This is because modern vehicles are using more chips than ever before and the COVID-19 pandemic messed up supply and demand forecasts. (Erie Insurance)
  2. Manufacturers can’t meet demand because building semiconductor chips is a complex, expensive, and time-consuming process. This is the reason there are only a small number of chip manufacturers in the world. All these manufacturers are currently operating at full capacity. (Erie Insurance)Cant Meet Chip Demand
  3. It’s been reported that Ford has filled parking lots across Detroit with F-150 trucks that are yet to be completed because they are awaiting chip installation. (Erie Insurance)
  4. Shortages have had an effect on car prices, the average transaction price for a used car was $25,410 in the second quarter of 2021. That’s increased from $20,942 from the same time the year before, a 21% increase. (Edmunds)Shortage Effect on Price
  5. Semiconductor demand overtakes supply by 10% at the end of 2021. Low car inventory supply will continue across most chip types, but more pronounced in mature and legacy nodes. (BCG)
  6. Car inventory shortages are expected to continue throughout 2022, especially for Analog, Logic, and MEMS. (BCG)Demand Overtake Supply
  7. 2022 is expected to see just under 80M vehicles produced, which is 7-8M units fewer than what had been expected for 2022 in December 2020. (BCG)Less Cars Made
  8. With low used car & new car inventories and high dealer premiums, it is expected that customer frustration will continue to increase in 2022. (BCG)
  9. OEM semiconductors are used for 7 applications across 37 modules on a vehicle. Given the increasing importance of semiconductors to the auto industry, it is essential that OEMs lock in their long-term semiconductor strategy and broader partnership ecosystem now. (BCG)More Chips in Cars
  10. 2022, like 2021, will not see historical summer lows in the demand cycle which in past years has been used to rebuild inventories. (BCG)

Overall Car Buying Trends & Analysis

Car sales are steadily returning to their normal pre-covid levels, especially used cars. Sustainability through alternative-fuel vehicles is definitely among the top priorities for car buyers, because according to the latest vehicle stats, the EV market is booming. The EV market shows great promise as manufacturers work to eliminate the top consumer pain points.

The semiconductor shortage has had a major impact in 2021 and will continue to disrupt the market in 2022. This has caused major markups at dealerships along with a general inventory shortage. Buyers are either postponing their purchase or looking to used vehicles.

This year, car shoppers are very budget-conscious and are shifting to used cars. The online shopping experience continues to grow, even though most shoppers are not quite ready to make the jump to 100% digital car buying. The majority still turn to dealerships for their final purchases, and dealerships are also adjusting to add more digital processes to meet consumer demands.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most popular models for 2021?

The best-selling models for 2021 were SUVs. The Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue, and Toyota Highlander were the most popular models.

What is the most popular vehicle brand for 2021?

Toyota still maintains the largest market share in 2021. The Tesla Model Y was the most sought-after EV.

Are car prices increasing?

Yes, with the market still recovering from COVID and now with the semiconductor shortages, new and used car prices have gone up this year.

Will there still be a chip shortage in 2022?

Yes, it is expected that the chip shortage will continue to affect the automotive market in 2022.

What are the main concerns for EVs in 2021?

The top consumer concerns for EV adoption include driving range, price, and availability of charging stations.

What are the alternatives to buying a new car in 2021?

With high dealer markups, many consumers are turning to used or CPO vehicles. It's important to note that even used car prices are increasing.