By on February 4, 2022

Nobody should envy car shoppers right now. With production shortages ongoing, there’s never anything you want on the lot, and what is there is likely to be grotesquely overpriced.

This has encouraged consumers to wait longer before replacing their current ride, which is statistically likely to be far older than years past. But not everyone has the same level of patience or financial wellbeing, meaning certain parts of the country are seeing longer intervals between cars than others. There are also regional inventory disparities to account for, encouraging analytics firm Growth from Knowledge (GfK) to conduct an investigation into which parts of the United States are waiting for the longest to procure a new automobile. 

The only caveat to the study was that the surveyed customers had to be aware of the global semiconductor shortage, indicating that they were at least partially aware that what’s happening on the market is unusual. GfK found 17,000 of them to ensure a meaningful sample size.

Shared by Automotive News, the survey found that 33 percent of respondents would change their purchasing plans because of the shortage, and half of those said they would sit around indefinitely until the exact vehicle they wanted became available. Income also played a major factor, with households making less money overwhelmingly willing to wait the longest. Meanwhile, 29 percent of those making over $150,000 said they would be willing to wait longer than 12 months for a new car.

Regionally, Midwestern shoppers seemed the most likely to steel themselves for prolonged purchasing delays. Of those surveyed, 43 percent said they would wait over 12 months to get a vehicle of their choosing at the price they wanted.

Northeastern Americans were among the least patient, with only 30 percent willing to wait a full year for a new car.

Growth from Knowledge attributed regional differences to socioeconomics and the unique needs of residents. Though the Midwest was given additional credit due to how deeply intertwined it is with automotive manufacturing.

“That is where the bulk of employee sales are happening, and clearly people who are using an employee discount are much more aware of the chip shortage and better understand the impact,” Julie Kenar, GfK’s senior vice president of mobility consulting, told Automotive News.

From AN:

While it is not as clear why the fewest number of people who would wait over a year were from the Northeast, it likely has to do with a lifestyle difference. Many of those consumers likely did not need cars in the past, but as there is a shift in the number of people moving to the suburbs from major metro areas, they will likely need them now, Kenar said.

Jason Olesnavage, a division manager for Midwest dealership group Fox Motors, said the vehicle shortage has forced his branch to come up with new ways to sell cars, especially because there aren’t enough to fill lots, he said.

While there are different pools of customers willing to change their purchasing plans, he deals with many who will not compromise and will wait for the exact car they want. He said his customers will typically wait the longest periods for newer models of the Ford Bronco, Ford Bronco Sport and electric vehicles.

But waiting for the car you really want isn’t feasible for everyone. Many are simply waiting in the hopes that prices will soon come down. Unfortunately, the industry isn’t signaling that as a priority, even after it sold several million cars than anticipated for two years running.

Automakers have been dumping more affordable models for years and I’m getting worried they’re going to stay the course here. Having grown accustomed to higher-margin products, a lot of companies don’t want to risk playing the volume game with inflation becoming an increasingly relevant factor. Manufacturers are universally expressing concerns about an uptick in production costs and very few are prepping economical options for customers that are likewise feeling the money pinch.

Instead, we’re seeing automakers continue to ax small, affordable products for larger alternatives yielding higher MSRPs and juicier margins. For example, General Motors just decided to eliminate the Chevrolet Spark from its lineup. While unlikely to be anybody’s dream car, it’s a functional runabout that’s ideal for rental fleets or anybody who needs reliable transportation on the cheap. It also happened to be GM’s least-expensive offering and its absence will represent a nearly $7,000 increase in the minimum amount of cash one is required to spend to take home a brand new vehicle from Chevrolet.

Chevy is also said to be readying a larger replacement of the Bolt EV. While the current theory is that it’ll cost slightly less than the vehicle it’s replacing, it’s customary for larger cars using newer hardware to be more expensive. My guess is that GM will champion the new Ultium-based model as costing roughly the same as the Bolt and then bump up the price ahead of launch. But I would absolutely love to be wrong here because the sub $30,000 space needs more products, regardless of whether they’re running on gasoline, diesel, or stored electricity.

[Image: Gretchen Gunda Enger/Shutterstock]

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46 Comments on “Where Are People Waiting the Longest to Buy a New Car?...”

  • avatar

    “ But I would absolutely love to be wrong here because the sub $30,000 space needs more products, regardless of whether they’re running on gasoline, diesel, or stored electricity.”

    Looking at sales numbers, is the issue that the traditional Spark class vehicle buyer became a used car buyer? To use pre-covid sales, in 2019 Chevy sold 31,000 Sparks. The would have made and sold more if they thought they could. The buyers just weren’t and aren’t there.

    • 0 avatar

      I tend to agree. If folks were highly interested in the Spark it would still be around but it’s sales weren’t especially high even after the Cruze and Sonic went away.

      As far as the sub-$30k market goes, it is still reasonably robust (for now). Probably strong enough to weather all but a massive credit crunch. The sub-$20k market is just about gone though.

    • 0 avatar
      Matt Posky

      Absolutely. GM dumped the Spark because it couldn’t figure out how to make it more profitable. My worry is that any automaker who doesn’t have something truly affordable on offer today is going to have to lean extra hard on higher margin vehicles that may become unpopular as the income disparity widens. SUV sales cratered during the last economic fiasco while Prius sales thrived.

      Maybe a truly useful vehicle that fits the needs of the average consumer cannot be produced for under $30k anymore and people now just have to hold onto their cars longer and pay more overall. But after seeing how people responded to the Maverick, I’m betting that smaller cars with low MSRPs are about to get extremely popular. Then again, the industry has gotten really good at selling customers on their highest-margin products. I don’t know if that style of business will be manageable through another prolonged economic crisis but I suppose anything is possible.

      • 0 avatar

        “I’m betting that smaller cars with low MSRPs are about to get extremely popular.”

        I will take that bet.

        Not to be too callous, but the average person who buys a new car isn’t going to worry too much about gas going up by 50 cents or meat going up by a couple bucks a pound, or whether or not the Spark is still on sale. Those are real issues and affect people’s lives, and I’m not trying to downplay it.

        But the typical car buyer has gained tens if not hundreds of thousands in home equity the last two years, has seen their 401k and investment accounts flourish until recently, and is probably in a good position to either demand a raise from their employer or leave their job for a better paying one. Moreover, the type of economy we are in now is very different than 2008. I can’t foresee a realistic scenario where millions of reasonably affluent people suddenly abandon their long-standing vehicle preferences for something smaller and cheaper. As others have stated, it’s not exactly like the subcompact market was on fire in 2019 either.

        • 0 avatar

          “people suddenly abandon their long-standing vehicle preferences for something smaller and cheaper.”

          How small and how cheap? I don’t anticipate the Kia Rio becoming a best seller but I could see higher interest rates moving people from an Explorer Timberline to an Explorer XLT or an Explorer XLT to a Bronco Sport.

          • 0 avatar

            Good clarification.

            I interpreted Matt’s comment as part of the beaten to death argument about sedans vs CUVs, but he’s free to correct me.

            I don’t see any scenario where sedans or any form of traditional cars become popular again in the near term. And I guess my larger point is that for the last 90 years, nothing has been able to shake Americans’ preferences for larger and more expensive vehicles except oil shocks.

        • 0 avatar

          I think Posky would be better served by rewording his bet:

          “..I bet less expensive cars with lower MSRPs will rise in popularity relative to to more expensive vehicles with higher MSRPs”.

          There are few “low MSRP” cars today, and even fewer available for sale.

          As pointed out in the “Spark saga” (GM can’t make it more profitable. Really? It’s a small low price car. It cannot, be relatively or absolutely, as profitable as a pick-up or SUV or Equinox or Trax) that uses GM as an example, ALL the automakers would rather allocate their capacity to pricier cars, if they are going to sell every one.

          It’s not easy to enter the US car market. See Yugo and Hyundai in the 1980s, or the imports in 1960.

          It would take a concerted effort from an established automaker who has less to lose going down market.

          Nissan and Mitsubishi come to mind. Maybe a Chinese company we’ve not heard of in the US.

          Nissan and Mitsubishi are the least successful car companies. If Nissan would simply dust off the ancient blue prints, and build Tsurus (that’s the early 1990s Nissan Sentra), add air bags, TAKE THE HIT ON THE CRASH ratings and settle for 3 or 4 starts instead of 5, they’d have a winner that wasn’t ugly, and would offer the public 3-6 years of trouble free motoring, and 12-25 of reliable motoring.

          As inflation and fuel prices rise, people will reconsider their attachment to CUVs and pricier cars, and some will go for Tsurus. That’s what happened in the 1970s, when people bought Vegas and Pintos and Corollas and B210s… many of them hated small cars, but they needed wheels, and gas and cars were pricey… More than a few Americans drove cars they would never have considered seriously in 1967 for themselves–maybe for their 16 year old kid.

          A long time ago, Beetles were for weirdos and cheapskates. The offered little–slow, small, cramped, noisyu–but they executed it to high level of quality. In the year 2022, any large automaker can make a high quality car.

          I should get paid for this obvious strategy.

          • 0 avatar

            “Nissan and Mitsubishi are the least successful car companies”

            By what criteria?

            Mitsubishi is profitable. Mitsubishi sells more vehicles than Acura, Volvo, Porsche, Lincoln, Mini, Alfa Romeo, Infiniti, Fiat.

            Nissan is top 5 in sales.

        • 0 avatar

          so ths might play out a bit, because it looks like people are again going back to the thing that keeps them warm and dry at night and treating it like an ATM. 401ks shouldnt be used, but investment accounts are just fine

          im about $15k from having NO mortgage and that extra $510/mo will come in handy. hopefully be able to buy a new toy with cash to replace my 2008 scooter.

          • 0 avatar

            Nissan sell nearly twice as many cars world-wide than GM. It is the world’s fourth largest car company. Nissan does far better in Consumer Report testing than GM, which is near the bottom in repair history.

        • 0 avatar
          Matt Posky

          You might be right, Jack. I’m just making an educated guess about the future and things feel worse than the period before our last big economic crash, not better.

          But why do you think everyone who owns are car also owns a home, 401K, or an investment portfolio? I’m likewise inclined to agree that wealthier people are the ones buying the most cars right now. However that doesn’t mean younger and/or poorer people won’t eventually need new cars. Most of the people I know in the middle class that are struggling own pickups and SUVs. They’re complaining about fuel prices, grocery bills, and are not sure what to do about their next vehicle purchase since the new and used markets have both gotten so unnecessarily brutal.

          • 0 avatar

            Mostly from studies like this:


            Notable facts: “70% of new car buyers in 2020 had an income over $75,000”, and “the average age of a new car buyer was 50”.

            Historically, age and high income are correlated with homeownership and investments. Obviously not everyone has them, but the typical buyer of a new car in 2022 probably is doing alright financially.

            Now, we can debate all day whether this is sustainable or desirable, but it is reality at the moment.

            I’m also much more bullish on the medium term economic outlook (next year or two) than you seem to be, which informs my prediction. I think the worst of whatever you want to call the 2020-21 economy is already behind us and today’s shockingly good jobs report is yet another sign of that. If I’m wrong about that, then I expect to be wrong with my predictions here too.

      • 0 avatar

        A Camry LE is $25,395 and Corolla Cross LE is $24,545. I think every brand still has bread-and-butter products for under $30k (including the Prius) so I don’t think it’s quite so dire yet for consumers.

        • 0 avatar
          Matt Posky

          Those were all Toyota models. I think you would find it a lot harder to find vehicles (especially good ones) under 30K among domestic brands. It might even be close to impossible if you also factored in destination fees or tossed on a few of the most popular options.

          • 0 avatar

            Many of which are designed here, engineered here, and produced here…

            There’s your next article: Why is it that the US “Big 3” are so utterly incapable of making (or unwilling to make) a profitable midsize or smaller vehicle that retails for under $30k? What exactly ARE the reasons? We can’t say that Toyota isn’t profitable, they are more so than almost everyone else. Honda does fine, H/K seem to as well, same with Subaru, all of them also build many of their most popular vehicles here, many of which are well under $30k. The Big3 are the ones that are often building in Mexico or elsewhere, frankly, and have dumped most of their lower-MSRP stuff entirely.

            I like fancy stuff as much as the next guy but if my favorite vendor is only selling pricy stuff when I’m low on cash, well, I guess I’ll cut them off and buy what I need from whoever sells it. Maybe I’ll like that lower priced thing so much that the next time I have a bigger budget I might look at them first… If you can’t design something good on a budget, then you’re really not that good at your job, especially when there are multiple others that can.

            And before you think I’m a domestic-brand hater, we have three domestic branded and built vehicles in the driveway, all built within the last half-decade or so, two of them purchased new.

          • 0 avatar
            Matt Posky

            Good idea.

            Don’t worry about being a domestic hater. They still make some of my favorite (large) products, I’m just worried that they’re setting themselves up for disaster again and I’m not supporting yet another bailout.

          • 0 avatar

            That’s a bit of a goal post shift (what’s “good”? what’s “popular options”? and why is a domestic brand particularly important for a general consumer?), but here’s domestic vehicles under $30K *after destination*:
            Compass: $27,615
            Renegade: $24,385
            Malibu: $24,395
            Trax: $22,595
            Trailblazer: $22,795
            Equinox: $26,996
            Colorado Crew cab: $28,925
            Colorado Ext cab: $27,025
            Encore: $25,795
            Encore GX: $27,140
            Terrain: $29,095
            Escape: $27,255
            Maverick: $21,490
            Ranger SuperCab: $28,575
            Mustang $28,400

            I left off the Spark and EcoSport because their cancellation has been announced.

          • 0 avatar

            I think some of that is in how the Japanese makes do their trim packages. They generally have 3 or so trim packages and that’s what you get. The Domestic brands tend to have huge numbers of options and tend to lard them on so it’s very difficult to find a base model in any trim level. I far prefer how the Japanese brands do it.

      • 0 avatar

        “SUV sales cratered during the last economic fiasco while Prius sales thrived.”

        Actually, Prius sales went down by about 17% from 2007 to 2009.

        • 0 avatar
          Matt Posky


          2006: 106,971 (pre-recession)
          2007: 181,221 (recession)
          2008: 158,884 (recession)
          2009: 150,831 (recession)
          2010: 140,928 (post-recession)
          2011: 136,464
          2012: 236,655

          Context really matters, bud.

          Prius sales also tend follow rising fuel prices. Its biggest spikes in volume take place in 2007 and 2012. A gallon of gas averaged $2.20 at the start of 2007. Sixteen months later it was over $4.10. In 2011, the U.S. was looking at $3.10 per gallon. It was back up to $4.00 per gallon before the year was even over.

        • 0 avatar
          Daniel J

          Compass: $27,615 – aweful
          Renegade: $24,385 – aweful
          Malibu: $24,395 – almost done
          Trax: $22,595 – aweful
          Trailblazer: $22,795 – barely ok
          Equinox: $26,996 – adequate
          Colorado Crew cab: $28,925 -good
          Colorado Ext cab: $27,025 -good
          Encore: $25,795 – aweful
          Encore GX: $27,140 – aweful
          Terrain: $29,095 – adequate
          Escape: $27,255 – good
          Maverick: $21,490 – good
          Ranger SuperCab: $28,575 – mediocre
          Mustang $28,400 – good

          Out of 16 vehicles, only about half are decent vehicles, and most are still behind their peers in terms of value (perceived or real).

      • 0 avatar

        Renault sells KWID in India from under $6K US. If low priced vehicles ever return to US they won’t arrive at GM dealership.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I don’t think the low 20s is completely gone if the right product is introduced. Today not as many good affordable used vehicles are available as they were pre-Covid and there will be even less in the future with less vehicles being produced due to Covid-19. The Ford Maverick is a case in point and before you saying anything that not all Mavericks are in the low 20s the fact that so many have placed orders for it says there is a demand for a more affordable and smaller vehicle which in this case is a compact pickup. GM’s reputation for quality small vehicles is not that good but then their reputation overall has been declining in recent years. GM is not a trend setter and it will take them years if ever to come up with a viable compact pickup. GM has been steadily losing market share and is likely to be passed up by Ford. GM is dead from the inside with poor management that doesn’t have a clue as to any changes in the market.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The Maverick has shown the popularity of cheaper vehicles, but you can’t really buy them.

    You’ll also notice that the Maverick is suddenly production-constrained by “supply chain issues”. No such announcements for the F-150.

    The mfrs are producing loss-leaders to get people in the door, then selling upward either through desirable packaging, or limited supply of the cheap model. The Tesla Model 3 is Exhibit A, but so is every new vehicle introduction today. Vague words are spoken about cheaper models in the future, but they rarely materialize.

    Tesla’s Model 3 lead times are:
    RWD with aero wheels ($45k): October 2022
    RWD with sport wheels ($46k): June 2022
    AWD ($51k): March 2022
    AWD Performance ($59k): March 2022

    Certainly 90%+ of the Model 3’s parts are the same between all these variants, yet it’s the *more complex* versions that are available first. This is purely about margin.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      Not every customer who walks in the dealer can be bated to switch to a larger more expensive vehicle. Bait and switch is such an old practice that it doesn’t work on everyone and is an insult.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        I’m saying it’s happening at the mfr level, by squeezing supply of low-end models.

        One reason average transaction prices have skyrocketed is that enough people are willing to pay to get wheels. If customers held their ground and didn’t buy, dealers would be closing due to lower margins. Instead, dealers are reporting record profits.

    • 0 avatar

      Ding ding ding. When I saw the MSRP being as low as it is, I thought, “That won’t last.”

      Dragging feet on production of the high-value model is one way to defend their pricing on more expensive models.

  • avatar

    Much to the detriment of consumers, I think the auto manufacturers have learned a great deal about inventory management from this last year. First, they will put scarce chips into the more expensive end of their products. Second, they have learned that scarcity allows them to spend NO money on incentives and give the dealers a big profit margin to minimize complaints about lack of product in the pipeline. Manufacturers and dealers are after PROFIT, not VOLUME and they are getting it. Wall Street may have cut the price of Ford stock, but Ford is making money and has a full order book for the Maverick, all going at list or above. The demand for new and used vehicles would be even higher if gas prices hadn’t skyrocketed (here in L.A. today regular is around $5/gallon, with super running about $.35 more. Add that to your insurance bill and see how much is left to pay a car note, especially with rising grocery and rents costs.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      Someone will fill the void for less expensive vehicles. Not everyone is in the market for a big pickup or suv. Some of us want a smaller more nimble vehicle regardless of what the price of gas is. This is similar to the 70s where Detroit for the most part put most of their eggs in the basket of full size and midsize cars and the few small cars they had were poor quality and not competitive. There will come a day when high interest rates and escalating prices for trucks, suvs, and crossovers will price many out of the market. A less expensive quality vehicle whether it be a small car, small crossover, or smaller truck will become popular and buyers will not care if its a not a GM,Ford, Stelantis, Toyota, Honda, or any other of the current popular name brands. It might be a more affordable EV made by the Chinese,Vietnamese, India, or any other country by a manufacturer that either doesn’t currently exist or is unheard of by most of us. Detroit is going to fall into the same trap it fell into during the 70s. There will always be a market for a large pickup or suv but not everyone will be able to afford one and not everyone will qualify for a higher interest rate. Wanting and affording are not the same.

      • 0 avatar
        Matt Posky

        “This is similar to the 70s where Detroit for the most part put most of their eggs in the basket of full size and midsize cars and the few small cars they had were poor quality and not competitive. There will come a day when high interest rates and escalating prices for trucks, suvs, and crossovers will price many out of the market.”

        It’s like you’re reading my mind. Great assessment.

    • 0 avatar

      costco went from 4.16 to 4.22 overnight. before the pandemic it was around $3.70ish. not completely horrible, and im sure theyre making .50/gallon

      2008 most of the costcos hit the max throughput limit they were allowed to sell for the month and had to stop selling. back then it was something like 1.25M gallons per station

  • avatar

    Personally, I have a deposit on a 2020 Chevy Bolt that I put down right before the stop sale in August 2021, then followed up that great idea with ordering a 2022 Ford Maverick in September 2021. I have neither vehicle in my possession….yet.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I hear you I had the production date of my 2022 Maverick XLT hybrid moved from the week of Feb 14 to the week of March 14. I have waited this long so I can wait a little longer. It will most likely take a month from when my Maverick is produced to when the dealer receives it. Unlike what many view as what the consumer wants I can afford a more expensive truck but I wanted a less expensive, smaller, and better mpgs so the Maverick better fit my needs. I like the Santa Cruz but it is several thousand more with less mpgs and its looks are not bad but it reminds me more of a Subaru Brat which is not what I wanted. If the Maverick didn’t exist I might have been interested in the Santa Cruz but even it is rare and dealers are asking for hefty price adjustments above MSRP. I ordered my Maverick on July 25 at MSRP and put $500 down.

    • 0 avatar

      Hopefully you get it by March. I’m feeling you might be celebrating the summer with it though. I’m pretty much maxing out my budget with my next car.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff S

        Thanks. I will celebrating the fact that I got it and I will be using it to haul a few light items that I want to get rid of. Getting my house ready to sell and move into a smaller place in a warmer climate.

  • avatar

    where is my new colt!!

  • avatar

    ok ok if not the colt how about the champ?

  • avatar

    The used car market is the driver in any state of the economy.

    Those buying Broncos, Mavericks and Teslas are the Well To Do with deep pockets. Their fathers bought MBs, BMWs, and Audis. Their grandfathers bought Cadillacs, Lincolns, and Imperials. Money is no object and never will be.

    It’s the middle class and economically challenged who are taking the hit. The used car lot near my house is still empty. Once the chip shortage and COVID are under control, things will return to “near normal” and used cars will fill the void.

    However, the bottom of the new car market has shifted. Look at the Ford EcoSport, Chevy Trax, Buick Encore, Hyundai Venue, etc. Auto development is so expensive, only so many dollars will be spent on baseline model upgrades. The current mindset of baseline models is “take it as is or move up to something nicer”. The days of inexpensive Corollas refined with each product cycle are gone.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      Maybe for the American manufacturers but not for other countries especially China, Vietnam, and other emerging countries. Where there is a void someone will fill it. As for used vehicles there are a couple of million less vehicles being made due to Covid and those will be used vehicles in a few years which means there will be less used vehicles on the market. Eventually most vehicles reach the end of their life cycle and are scrapped. 12 to 15 million vehicles are scrapped each year in the US contributing more than 14 million tons of scrap steel.
      Used vehicles might go down in price after the chip shortage but it will be years before they reach normal.

  • avatar

    Off topic, but anyone have any experience using Turo? The GF and I are going to Disneyland in a few weeks and we’re going to take a day and roam L.A.

    How is the experience? Any better services out there?


  • avatar

    The future seems to be in dedicated professional run used car dealerships. There is one down the road from me, which resembles a typical brand dealership. The main difference of course is that they sell various used brands under the same roof. How can you beat a 2018 Camry with 40,000 miles selling for $14,000! You know you can get at least another 160,000 out of this car. This dealership also keeps records of the cars repair history, which is something CarMax does as well.
    The average price of a car is now $30,000+ and it seems logical customers will flock to well-maintained used cars. Mainstream dealerships are so desperate for used cars they even offered $13,000 for my 2014 Ford Fusion with 122,000 miles on it.

    • 0 avatar

      “Mainstream dealerships are so desperate for used cars they even offered $13,000 for my 2014 Ford Fusion with 122,000 miles on it.”

      Damn, further proof we left Earth behind in 2020.

    • 0 avatar

      I am not seeing comparable deals for used “Camries” in my area. From what I see, they are selling at $20k, and up. To me, a much better deal is a 2022 Camry, with 0 miles, and 3 years less road salt on it, for $27k.

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