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Car Buying Trends: What's Changed?

Car Buying Trends: What's Changed?

The COVID-19 pandemic is still very much upon us but we’ve survived it enough at this stage to be able to take a look back and make a few assessments about how it affected the automobile industry. 

Luckily, in the era of data, no guesswork is necessary when it comes to analyzing the trends. The car-purchasing app, CoPilot has done a lot of the work for us. It’s pored through the data of more than 30 million American car sales in 2020 and found some interesting results. It should be noted that CoPilot’s data is only representative of American car industry sales and of that only of the sales that were generated through CoPilot. Still, the results were interesting to say the least. 



Luxury Cars Sold Like Hot Cakes


While overall car sales were down in 2020, those that were sold were often in the higher value range. Vehicles that were between the 80 and 90k price range saw sales skyrocket by 91%. On the other end of the spectrum, there was a precipitous drop in sales of cars priced under 20k. Cars at the lower end of the value spectrum dropped by 30% last year. This is an interesting trend for a number of reasons - it points to inequity in the pandemic experience of Americans - the wealthier of the American set had more disposable income and ambition to purchase vehicles than lower income Americans who were adversely affected by the pandemic. 


This disparity of wealth in the American consumer led to multiple trends in American automobile industry sales and service. Luxury car sales were one interesting spike but let’s take a look at a few more of the most visible trends. 




2017 Cars Were the Hottest Cars Going 


Stay at home orders and the semiconductor shortage in 2020 contributed to dearth of production on new vehicles which in turn led to an uptick in demand for used vehicles. This resulted in an unconventional balance in sales for the year in which used vehicles outperformed new ones. Interestingly, the most sold year of vehicles was 2017, which was likely because 2017 was a new enough to offer reliability while still offering the value of a used vehicle with a reduced price. 


Many Vehicles Still Sold Over One Million Units 


Though overall car sales were down from previous years, the pandemic forced many people to reconsider their means of travel. Public transit suddenly became a less than desirable proposition to many when the idea of being surrounded by people suddenly seemed fraught with peril. As a result, many people chose to purchase vehicles rather than hop on a plane, train or taxi. Eleven different makes and models managed to move over one million units in 2020, one of them being the best-in-class RAM 1500. 



The SUV Establishes Dominance


Throughout 2019 and straight through to 2021, the SUV outsold the sedan by close to a two to one ratio. No fewer than eleven of the twenty best selling vehicles in 2020 were crossovers or SUVs. The SUV popularity surge says a lot about what people want from a vehicle in 2021. Comfort, space, an ability to take the vehicle off of the beaten path and, perhaps most importantly, safety all play an important role in a car buying decision in the era of the pandemic.



The Rise of the Hybrid 


EV’s and hybrids have found their time to shine, finally as more and more consumers are willing to consider making the leap from traditional fuels in their vehicles. Rising or fluctuating fuel prices have pushed more and more people to consider alternatives and hybrid costs continue to fall. Here at CarHub we can attest to the trend and our manufacturers have responded with exciting new ventures into the hybrid market such as the Jeep Wrangler 4xe, the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle and the mild hybrid eTorque technology of the 2021 RAM 1500




Buying has Moved Online 


Stay-at-home orders have pushed more and more people to make their vehicle purchases from the comfort of their homes. A data analysis from Mckinsey showed a thirteen percent average increase in the use of digital channels for purchasing a vehicle as well as a boost in digital presence for consumers in every country surveyed. Furthermore, seventy percent of digital product users say that they will continue to use digital systems for their purchases even after the pandemic has finished. At CarHub, you can buy car online through our convenient Buy Now button that is located on our inventory pages is the perfect digital transition solution for anyone who is looking to make the just to an online buying experience. 



The Roundup


The COVID-19 pandemic has changed a lot about how we live, shop and work but change is not necessarily a bad thing. We’ve seen ups and downs for the past year in the automotive industry but it’s become abundantly clear that car manufacturers, dealerships and consumers are resilient, and that we will continue to find ways to make enjoy our vehicles together. 


How has the pandemic changed your buying habits? You can let us know via and book an appointment for an in-store visit while you’re there!

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