New Trends Study Reflects Changes in the Car Buying Process

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Woman standing by new car/Image Credit: Antoni Shkraba

As the auto industry has been going through changes, so has car buying behavior. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a semiconductor shortage that resulted in vehicle inventory problems, so the car you may have been seeking was probably not readily available. That’s not all that’s happening in the auto industry, though. Other trends are worth keeping an eye on as you decide where and how to find your next vehicle.

Impact of the Inventory Shortage

According to Digital Air Strike’s 9th Annual Automotive Customer Experience Trends Study, one-third of vehicle buyers felt significantly impacted by the inventory shortage in 2021.

Of those affected:

  • 32% did not get their first choice of vehicle
  • 21% went to a different dealership
  • 21% had to wait for the vehicle they wanted
  • 17% purchased a used car instead of new
  • 8% had the dealer order a new build from the factory

As automakers have struggled to keep up with demand, the difference maker for many dealerships has been the number of options they’re able to provide to car buyers – aside from the new inventory on the lot. Just because your first choice isn’t parked out front doesn’t mean they can’t help you.

Pre-Ordering Is One Solution

Car shoppers are beginning to realize that sometimes the best way to get what you want is to order it. Based on the study’s findings, consumers have shown a higher willingness to put hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, down for a deposit and wait for the vehicle they want at levels never seen before in the auto industry’s history.

Of those who pre-ordered a vehicle:

  • 71% of vehicle buyers waited up to three months to get their vehicle
  • 27% of vehicle buyers waited three months to a year for their vehicle
  • 50% of vehicle buyers paid a vehicle deposit of $500 or more

Wait times should improve, but you may need to be proactive about communication if you choose to pre-order. Demand the dealer keeps you informed about the status of your vehicle order, including delivery time, the delivery process, and vehicle features.

Electric Vehicles Are Coming

2023 Nissan Leaf SV PLUS shown with a home charger/Image Credit: Nissan

Auto manufacturers are introducing many new electric vehicles into their lineups, with dozens of new EVs set to debut by the end of 2024. From cars and SUVs to pickups, consumers have a lot of options.

While some drivers are ready to move away from ever gassing up their cars again, many are hesitant to jump into vehicles they have to charge daily.

According to the study, only 15% of women and 11% of men said they bought or serviced an electric or hybrid vehicle over the past year.

Most consumers who had recently bought or serviced a car said they didn’t even consider purchasing an electric or hybrid vehicle. 86% of men and women said they didn’t even think about it, according to the study’s findings.

So, what are the reasons consumers didn’t purchase an EV?

  • 38% said they weren’t yet ready to buy one
  • 25% said they were too expensive
  • 24% said they were concerned about the range
  • 8% were waiting for new models to come out
  • 6% said they had availability issues

It’s easy to understand the hesitancy to spend thousands of dollars on a vehicle different from what you’re used to. Then again, things are changing fast. If you couldn’t find an electrified option that fit your needs a few months ago, that could be a lot different today.

The Dealership Experience is Changing

The pandemic has caused the auto industry to change faster than in the past. Auto dealers are mindful of these changes and now provide as much education and information to consumers as possible to make them feel comfortable, loyal, and ready to buy.

Don’t expect things to go back to how they were. Inventory issues will disappear, but dealerships might never return to full lots. More of the process will happen online, and electric vehicles are here to stay.

You’ve never had more choices in your car-buying experience. The whole industry is changing, and every automaker is taking its own approach. See what’s coming for Stellantis, the fourth-largest automaker behind Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Fiat. Learn more about what Mitsubishi has to offer in this blog.

Hayley Ringle

Hayley Ringle

Hayley Ringle has been an automobile enthusiast since her first motorcar love, a no-frills, air-cooled, orange 1976 VW Super Beetle. Hayley now enjoys driving her limited-edition Release Series 9 ride, an orange 2012 Scion XB, with vanity license plate HOTLAVA. Hayley’s fondness for cars stems from her dad’s love of British sports cars and her years working at an auto parts store while in college. She has written professionally for Phoenix-area newspapers for over 20 years, covering every subject imaginable, including Scottsdale’s car auctions and the Valley’s vehicle proving grounds. Her dream car is a Jaguar E-type roadster featured in the 1971 cult classic film “Harold and Maude.”