The auto industry has gone through an unprecedented period since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the three years before 2020, Americans bought about 17 million new cars a year. Dealer closures and supply chain problems dropped just after the pandemic hit the industry hard in April 2020. The industry did not recover that year.
Pent-up demand could not be satisfied by the industry in 2021 and so far this year. Parts shortages, particularly of microchips used in car electronics systems, meant manufacturer inventories plunged. People have had to wait months for cars they once could get in weeks. The lack of vehicles has pushed car prices to record levels. Some people have started to hold on to cars longer. The average age of a vehicle on the road topped 12 years in 2021. That is above any other year on record.
People’s buying patterns are still based on price, mileage and quality considerations. Several organizations publish carefully followed evaluations of brands. The leaders of this research are J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. Purchase decisions are often based on their research.
Americans continue to shop despite the dearth of supply. Patterns of demand are analyzed by Cox Automotive. Each quarter, it puts out a Brand Watch report of both mass market and luxury cars. The report reviews which car brands people consider when they are shopping. It also reports on auto segments and specific models.
In the second quarter, the top non-luxury brand based on “consideration” was Toyota at 35% across all buyers. The study’s authors wrote, “Despite having one of the leanest inventories in the industry, Toyota remained the leading non-luxury brand in consideration.” The data should be no surprise. Toyota is among the three top-selling brands in the United States, along with General Motors and Ford. Toyota and its luxury brand Lexus often top lists of the highest quality cars.
Ford took second place with a consideration percentage of 31%, followed by Chevy, GM’s best-selling brand, at 30%. Once again, since these are the top-selling brands, it is not odd they receive high consideration grades.
The owners of two brands that sell well should be disappointed. Jeep’s consideration score was only 13%, and Hyundai’s was only 15%.
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