By on April 7, 2021


pandemic

The pandemic has changed car buying plans for nearly three out of four shoppers who intended to buy in the next six months. New research from Comscore Automotive Data Mart, cited in a story today by Auto Remarketing, indicated the pandemic tops the concerns of four out of ten who had intended to buy.

pandemic

Shoppers are being more careful with all of their spending. They expect to do more research before buying, with income being a big factor too. What’s surprising is that shoppers are considering buying new, instead of used or certified pre-owned vehicles.

Comscore wanted to know how COVID-19 affected those who had planned to buy or lease a new or used vehicle, and what caused a shift. Almost half said the pandemic negatively affected their income, an impact greater among those ages 18-34 and 34-54 than those 55 and older. One third expected the pandemic and their economic situation to delay their car buying esearch, and as a result their purchasing timeline.

pandemic

Not everyone was affected, including 55 percent who expected no changes. 27 percent said it would not change their car buying plans at all. New deals and customer assistance for buyers caused 13 percent to shorten their search. Pandemic case level changes and public transportation issues caused a revival in shoppers and sales from their April 2020 lows.

Automakers’ incentives, and affluent customers who are still buying, have reduced the effects of the pandemic. Being able to take advantage of the offers gave these buyers a lot of flexibility. Dealers adopted safety protocols at their dealerships to make consumers more comfortable, and better accommodate their needs. Their experience had improved by shopping online. They can view inventories online, get quotes, obtain loans, and set up delivery from home.

48 percent of shoppers were interested in purchasing a car completely online, up 10 percent over 2019. Automakers who expanded their online presence in response to the pandemic drove traffic to their websites. Consumers ready to buy cars should encourage manufacturers to come up with new ways to meet their needs.

[Images: Comscore, TTAC, BMW]

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24 Comments on “Pandemic Changes Car Buying Plans, Or Has It?...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    My lease ends in November, so I’ll either buy it out or get something else. Either way, I’ll be making a car transaction then, unless I return the lease and wait a while for the right vehicle. Fortunately, the pandemic hasn’t affected my income or buying plans.

  • avatar
    JMII

    I wonder how many put off a vehicle purchase just because they no longer commute? My brother (who has multiple vehicles) sold his daily driver because it was just collecting dust in the garage.

    Due to the lack of buying inventory of trade-ins / used vehicles is low and thus prices are high. This is what is holding back my next purchase.

    On the flip side the lack of spending on vacations, dinning, movies, etc means those who weathered the storm are likely in a better financial position now. This is the K shaped recovery taking shape. For example hospitality workers lost everything, while tech workers made out very well.

    • 0 avatar
      golden2husky

      For most though, the commute will be coming back. I’ve already been told to plan for a staged return in May/June. Can’t imagine that most won’t still need their pre pandemic ride unless they retire.

      Check out the values of your C7…you probably could sell it for close to what you paid for it if the miles are not too high…

      • 0 avatar

        I think it depends. Near me insurance and finance are the big employers. Most of them are telling employees they can work from home permanently and have started selling off office space. Others like the engineering companies etc seem to have already brought people back to the office.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I am prognosticating C8 production for the foreseeable future will not be able to keep up with demand and thus C7s will get hot.

        • 0 avatar
          JMII

          For sure. My C7 is worth what I paid for it 2.5 years ago – that is downright amazing! I have never owned a used car that went UP in value before. But I am still a good 4 years away from a C8 as I tend to keep my cars for awhile. My C7 is paid off but my savings are going into purchasing a second home.

    • 0 avatar

      Hell with new cars and more spending. We approaching dangerous point of overconsuming and running out of resources. We do not need 17 million new cars every year. Even 10 million is too much.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The pandemic had no effect on my own car-buying priorities, but by driving supply down and prices up in both the new and used markets, it has made it less likely that I’ll engage in any car transactions in the near future. Honestly with the inventory situation around here I end up feeling kind of lucky to have three good cars and no *need* to buy in the near future.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Unless you really have no choice this is a bad time to buy new or used. If the IS500 is actually priced under $60K I’ll probably start that process in the 2nd half of 2022.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    The events of 2020 took the 2014-2019 imbalanced wholesale market and put it in a blender.

    “What’s surprising is that shoppers are considering buying new, instead of used or certified pre-owned vehicles.”

    This is in no way surprising, *I* bought my first and only new car in 2018 because the spread between it with incentives and the same w/10K miles wholesale was $1,500 excluding buyer fees. Save $1,500 with 10K miles (really only $1,000 bc auction favors aren’t free) or spend $1,500 and get one with 121 miles and a factory warranty with free oil change/tire rotation till 20K?

    Hmmmmmmmmm…

    Now we’ve ostensibly got the “chip shortage” but it remains to be seen how badly that will squeeze new car sales. If the mythical over production 2015-18 ever hits the block we should see a small correction but to 2020 that somehow never materialized. I would expect the OEMs to start trimming incentives if there really is going to be a production shortfall (unless demand somehow drops).

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Some very good points in the comments. I too have 3 good vehicles, one bought during the Pandemic before prices skyrocketed. I too have more money because of less spending on vacations and on eating out. Also I just don’t drive as much. As with most things after a while inventory of new and used vehicles and price will stabilize.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    I keep delaying purchase decision. Had previously delayed with intent to purchase this past fall or about now. Will probably delay until the 2022 MY this coming fall or winter. There is nothing new on the market that is a “must have” for me, and my current car is long paid for and reliable, thus I’m in no rush. Hoping that the model I’m most interested in has some mid-cycle refreshments, new colors, etc. There is also a model intro for 2022 I’m interested in, so I’ll look at that too.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I leased my IS300 in March of 2019. It’s not my only car so I didn’t put a ton of miles on it until the lock down. And then it sat 6.5 days a week. I sold it in November to Vroom for about 15% more than anyone else was offering and right about what I thought I could sell it for on the open market after buying it out from Lexus.
    Since then I’ve been looking at cars, as I do that all the time anyway. For a daily car I am open to all sorts of things. I test drove a leftover 2020 Charger R/T and liked it a lot. But ultimately, until my commute returns it would be stupid to get anything else. So it has definitely affected my decision to buy/lease.
    I’m looking at new because I’m finding lease payments running about half of what I would spend if I bought a ~30k mile used car. And as often as I go thru cars, it starts to make sense. Especially if the market is so strong that selling a leased car means I get to drive it for almost half the term for the down payment alone.
    And, the sensible me understands that I can use my work car as a commuter and not need to get anything else anyway even after we go back.
    But I am always looking at non-daily drivers, so who knows what tomorrow holds.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    It has delayed our plans. The models we were interested in were delayed and the change in driving certainly changes our needs. It was to be the wife’s daily driver but since she now works from home 100% of the time and it looks like that will be the case for the near future her car just isn’t getting used.

    The problem was that it was part of a hand-me-up, hand-me-down scheme. The plan was the wife’s current car goes to her mother, the car her mother was driving goes to my daughter and my daughter’s car goes to her finance. Since the finance’s car is beyond its economic service life and it needs new tires, it really just needs to head to the crusher.

    Last month when I saw a Mustang convertible at a local auction and it went for cheap I told my wife I should have bought it for her. That got her thinking that that might be nice. So I’m starting to peruse for a good deal on something used that might be fun for the summer and fall.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Ugh. We were digging ourselves out of debt, but my van has developed a terminal engine issue. At 18 years old, the thing is just spent. But, I really did not want to look for a replacement at *this* time of year. With tax season extended and the stimulus checks still rolling out, everything will be at least $1400 (more like $4000) too high for my tastes.

    I’m hosed.

  • avatar
    gasser

    With the pandemic, I have a lot of miles not driven. I don’t think that my wife put over 1,000 miles on her car this past year. I, also in stay home mode, now have a two year old leased car with 5,500 miles on it. Our local tire/service store used to be open 7am to 7 pm M-S, now is open 5 days a week 8 to 2 only. During the lockdown, I had 3 friends whose auto leases were up and they just returned the cars and didn’t replace them with anything. As things go now, I will probably buy my car at lease end. Land Ark’s idea of selling to Vroom before lease end is very interesting to me and I will look into that. Thanks!

  • avatar

    For me we were going to buy around when the pandemic hit. We ended up waiting a while but we saw prices going up on the wholesale side so we decided to jump before they went to high. So far that’s turned out pretty good. The value on the car seems to have actually gone up in the 10 months we’ve owned it.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    I make my own tortillas now. Sorry, what was the question?

  • avatar
    rudiger

    Rolls-Royce reviews are fascinating, mainly to try and envision the person who actually buys a new one (or at least manages to be able to drive one for some length of time).

    I mean, I just can’t see an intelligent, wealthy person who worked hard to attain their wealth and had the means having anything to do with one. Maybe someone who, somehow, managed to fall into an ungodly amount of money like, say, a Powerball lottery winner. I suppose rockstars and other highly paid entertainers qualify, as well.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    My Silverado is now 6 years old with 117K miles on the odometer. As long as I have my travel trailer (and intend to use it) it serves the purpose for which I bought it. Once it doesn’t serve that purpose, it’s ridiculous to own. It’s been very good so far; I replaced the shocks/struts about a year ago; and in another 20K miles it will be time for the second tire replacement. I live in some fear of the now-discontinued 8-speed developing some expensive issue.

    Of more concern is my now 13-year old Pilot, which is pushing 200K miles. It needs new front struts but had had no need for other than scheduled maintenance. My wife seems to think it will run forever, but I am concerned that it will require some very expensive repair that is a substantial fraction of its value . . . just to be marketable as a trade-in. Frankly, all of the interiors of the non-luxury vehicles seem to me to be substantially de-contented . . . a farrago of plastic made to resemble, variously, wood, leather and metal. Leasing a luxury vehicle might be fun — as a retired person I would have no trouble staying within the mileage limits. (Although the dog would probably raise some havoc with the interior.). But it seems increasingly rare to find a vehicle whose horsepower has not been achieved by forced induction applied to an otherwise too small engine.

    So, inertia keeps me from doing anything. It doesn’t help that I find car buying usually to be an unpleasant experience.

  • avatar
    IH_Fever

    Only people I know that are really buying right now are those with lots of disposable income looking for a halo car, or the unfortunate ones who have to replace a car. And even then the used market seems much hotter than new.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I would rather go to the dentist and have my teeth drilled and filled without Novocain than to buy a vehicle at a dealership.

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