Topic: industry insights
Last year, dealerships across Canada were forced to adapt as buyers were suddenly unable to visit their showrooms and service areas. A shift into digital sales and customer service took place overnight, turning a long-predicted future into instant reality. CarGurus quickly rolled out our contactless services feature, allowing dealers to promote their offerings and how they were adapting to new shopping preferences.
Now that public health measures are beginning to ease and there’s light at the end of the tunnel, analysts are beginning to assess whether these changes are likely to stick or if customers will revert to old habits.
The complete answer is complicated, as found in recent survey data compiled by Desrosiers Automotive Consultants and the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association (CADA).
4 Supply concerns plaguing the auto industry in Canada — and how to keep them from impacting the shopping experience
The COVID-19 pandemic remains top of mind for most Canadians as a third wave of infections surges across the country. However, sales figures indicate that the auto industry is weathering the latest pandemic challenges reasonably well: despite continuing lockdowns and distancing measures, sales were up just over 15 percent year-over-year in the first quarter of 2021, and dealerships across the country remain open as essential businesses.
However, there are several other issues that threaten the stability of the new vehicle market in Canada in the coming months, both imports and those assembled domestically. Since it pays to be prepared, here’s a look at the supply concerns for the Canadian auto industry that are currently making the news.
Inventory acquisition has long been a pain point for dealers. It requires a combination of data, precedent, and dealer’s intuition to keep a lot stocked with in-demand vehicles that will move. And that’s before you consider other factors that fluctuate like changing consumer behavior, economic trends, and unanticipated events that affect supply and demand.
Dealers have been weathering changes and adapting their strategies for decades. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the industry—particularly, on supply. It’s led to auctions moving online, manufacturing plants being shut down by OEMs, lease extensions, and an overall shift in consumers’ preferences. Together, these variables have added up to a shortage of quality new and used vehicles unlike ever before.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, car dealers were already facing questions about what the future of the industry would look like. With consumers’ preferences changing and advancements in digital retailing strategies continuing to be made, many have been at least starting to think about tactics like online financing and home delivery. But the current health crisis has accelerated many of these trends, and today’s dealers must adapt to a new normal.
Like most businesses across the country, dealers have been taking proactive steps to ensure consumers’ safety at the dealership, rearranging showroom layouts to support social distancing, increasing cleaning measures, and more. According to CarGurus COVID-19 Sentiment Study, among current prospective buyers, top expectations for dealer visits to purchase or service a vehicle include:
Whether it’s due to a vehicle breaking down, a new commute, a growing family, or any number of reasons, a vehicle purchase is essential for many. That’s held true even during the current health crisis: 71% of those planning to buy this year cited the purchase as necessary, according to the CarGurus COVID-19 Sentiment Study in April. However, months later and our follow-up study found that about half (47%) of car shoppers aren’t as confident in their ability to afford a vehicle as a result of the pandemic.
As a result of consumers’ dwindling confidence, demand for financing is increasing. Before the pandemic, 47% of car buyers planned to finance their purchase. Now, 56% plan to or have already done so. Additionally, around one-third of those considering financing lost confidence in their ability to get approved (31%) and the financing rate they’d expect (34%).
As consumers emerge from lockdown, change travel plans, and reconsider what mobility will look like in the long-term, vehicles are becoming even more vital to everyday life, according to our latest COVID-19 Sentiment Study in Canada. In fact, nearly a third of those surveyed said they expect to use their car more going forward than before the pandemic.
In the near-term, 45% of respondents say they see their car as an escape or for fun. Additionally, 50% say they expect to use their car for more road trips or longer drives, while 73% of those planning to travel this year say they intend to drive, rather than fly, for at least one trip.
A month into the second half of the year, there are still questions about what recovery will look like for the auto industry. Our June COVID-19 Sentiment Study provided a glimpse into the new normal of car shopping — and the industry has taken note. Below are recent news stories that feature CarGurus’ latest data.
At CarGurus, we’re always looking for ways to share more industry insights with our valued dealers. Today, our Director of Automotive Industry Analysis, George Augustaitis, dives into the economic factors that could lead to Canada’s car shoppers buying more used vehicles.
“I didn’t think customers were going to buy a used car sight unseen. I really didn’t. I thought, there’s no way that’s going to happen. I’m happy to say I was wrong. And it’s not just a small trend, it’s a big trend.”
Last week, one of our Gurus, Audrey, had the chance to attend Google’s Think Auto 2019. The event was packed with interesting insights and takeaways for those in the automotive industry. One interesting topic that came up was the idea that changing customer desires and technological disruption are pushing the Canadian automotive industry to a competitive tipping point. In other words, to win in today’s market, dealers need to make data their competitive advantage.