Cox Automotive Competitor Briefings

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Cox Automotive Briefing

The CEO of Cox Automotive has stated that the company was finding ways to keep its employees, clients, and partners healthy. Cox Automotive is innovating by offering a 50% discount on subscriptions to its products and services, through the Retail Solutions COVID-19 Assistance Program. Cox Automotive is also operating simulcast-only sales through its brand, Manheim. Detailed information is below.

What the Company has Communicated

Statement on COVID-19

  • The CEO of Cox Automotive, Sandy Schwatz, released a statement on COVID-19 that was updated on April 9, 2020. In the statement, she said that the company was finding ways to keep its employees healthy and to keep businesses run by its clients/partners healthy. Schwatz also mentioned that Cox Automotive was doing all it could to prevent the Coronavirus from spreading further and ensure that it was delivering the best possible service despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic.
  • The CEO also stated that the company was doing everything it could do to "keep the automotive marketplace up and running." She said that the company had promised to do its best for everyone, and people could count on it to help lead the industry during the Coronavirus crisis.

COVID-19 Ends Spring Bump in Used-Vehicle Values

  • This press release by Cox Automotive estimated that the total used-vehicle sales volume declined by 18.4% year over year in March 2020.
  • The press release states that there was an "unprecedented downturn in sales and market disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic." According to the chief economist at Cox Automotive, Jonathan Smoke, the "market and underlying economic conditions deteriorated rapidly in the second half of March, and it is anticipated that the performance for April will be more severe. A decline was observed in the Manheim Market Report values, published by Manheim, a brand of Cox Automotive.

An Open Letter to Dealers By Dale Pollak, Executive Vice President, Cox Automotive

  • In the open letter, Pollak stated that in his time as a dealer, he had witnessed disruptions and recessions that caused tough conditions in the auto retailing sector, but none compared to what dealers were currently facing as a result of the Coronavirus crisis.
  • He stated that the Cox Automotive leadership team is thinking of ways to help dealers survive the current pandemic and get ready to take advantage of the opportunities that will arise when the market returns to normal.
  • According to Pollak, the car industry is a cyclical business, and history has shown that every downturn is followed by an upturn. He added that COVID-19 had challenged one of the important beliefs that car business must be done through in-person engagements. He stated that Cox Automotive had been urging a change to this belief for the past several years, so that there is a shift from the industry being "primarily physical and in-person, to one that includes more personalized, digitally-driven engagements."
  • He shared the informed viewpoint from Cox Automotive that said that its unlikely that the market will register a significant improvement in 30, 60, or 90 days.

Signs of a Recent Negative Economic Impact on the Company

  • According to the executive vice president at Cox Automotive, Dale Pollak, data by Cox Automotive suggests that service volume and retail sales across the industry had slowed in the past few weeks. Showroom traffic was down by "over 80% on a year-over-year basis, the number of scheduled service appointments was off more than 50%, and the show rate on service appointments had dropped nearly 90%." This has hurt the company as it works with over 40,000 auto dealer clients globally who have been impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.
  • According to Reuters, Cox Automotive predicts a negative economic growth in the second quarter in the United States and the company has withdrawn its forecast for 16.6 million new-vehicle sales. The chief economist at Cox Automotive, Charles Chesbrough, told CNBC that the situation was going to get worse as automakers saw big reductions in sales for the first quarter of the year.

Ways in Which the Company is Currently Innovating

Operating Simulcast-Only Sales

  • To keep its customers safe during the COVID-19 crisis, Manheim, a Cox Automotive brand, is operating simulcast-only sales, where local, state, and national directives allow. The Simulcast-only sales are running as postcard sales, where the vehicles are shown as images only.
  • The locations are closed to sellers and buyers, and no vehicles are allowed down the lanes. Manheim is also waiving the fees paid by simulcast buyers and sellers for now.

COVID-19 Assistance Program

Employees Encouraged to Work Remotely

  • To keep its employees safe as COVID-19 spreads, Cox Automotive has encouraged people who can work remotely to do so until Friday, May 1. This strategy is meant to keep the environment in its offices safer for those that must be onsite to perform their duties. Employees who must go to the office have been advised to avoid any face-to-face meetings if possible.
  • The company has also asked its employees to avoid all international business travel, reduce client-essential domestic trips, and refrain from attending external events and large group meetings.
  • Employees have been given government guidelines and encouraged to stay away from those who are sick, practice appropriate sanitation, and adhere to the 14-day quarantines at home if they traveled to Level 3 countries or came in close contact with those who have the virus.
  • Cox Automotive’s parent company, Cox Enterprises, has also decided to provide medical benefits for its employees, including waiving costs for COVID-19 diagnostic testing and providing telephone access to health care providers at a reduced cost or for free.
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Carvana Briefing

Carvana's Official Communication About the Company

  • Carvana's official website announces that due to COVID-19 they are extending the payment period to their clients to up to 90 days. They call it the "No Payments For up to 90 Days" promotion or "We're All in This Together" extension, and communicate that they are offering their clients this opportunity to "give everyone peace of mind".
  • Additionally, the company provides their customers with a COVID-19 FAQ, called "Safety FAQ". The company proceeds to inform through their web page, LinkedIn business page and official Twitter account that they have taken measures to guarantee their clients' safety in the current situation, such as the Touchless delivery system, where everything from the purchase through the contract and delivery is conducted entirely online.
  • Carvana also announces they adjusted their Vending Machine service to support social distancing.
  • On March 24, 2020, Carvana announced it will extend its current loan program with Ally Financial, stressing the importance of "finding the best solutions to help our dealer customers" during the uncertain times of COVID-19.
  • In order to support the continuous growth of its business, Carvana announced it needs to raise $600 million from investors to, once again, guarantee its clients' safety.
  • The company's communication on social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) remains mainly focused on their products, with only several mentions of their new or modified services they offer due to COVID-19.

Carvana's Current Innovation of its Operations

  • As previously mentioned, Carvana's two main innovations in the period of March 24-April 24 are the Touchless delivery system and the No Payments For up to 90 Days promotion.

Negative Economic Impact on Carvana's Business

  • Although some experts stay positive regarding Carvana's business development, the investment bank Morgan Stanley stated its concerns regarding company's growth in the foreseeable future due to the company's disruptive pricing strategy. Although the concerns raised were published before the corona virus outbreak, they are deduced to be up to date, since the slowing down of the US economy might cause the client to purchase their vehicles from cheaper car dealers.
  • The automotive industry stresses the importance of the need for quick innovations from the part of car dealing companies. It predicts that in order for car dealing sector to stay afloat during COVID-19, they need to update their systems or face the threat of slowing down considerably.
  • Although no direct official statements talking about the negative impact of COVID-19 on the business have been made by Carvana, it can be deduced that the company would choose to present new offers and adjustments, such as the Touchless delivery system, as opportunities to help their clients, rather than being their response to the negative impact the pandemic had on its business.
  • Correspondingly, it can be deduced that since the standard payment period in Carvana is 28 to 30 days after the vehicle purchase, it can be assumed that the company's influx of clients has been negatively impacted by COVID-19 and the "No Payments For up to 90 Days" promotion is meant as a means to help reach company's client volume.

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Carfax Briefing

Within the past month (March 24-April 24, 2020), CARFAX has commented on COVID-19 and how it has changed its operations due to such. Signs of recent, negative economic impact on the company that we found pertain to the U.S. used car market, in which the company operates. Ways in which the company is innovating its operations and business pertain to its employees working remotely due to COVID-19, changes the company made to improve reports for vehicle history for insurers, and inaugural awards that it issued to auto dealerships.

Statements/Press Releases

  • We found a total of two statements from CARFAX within the past month. We tried to find three statements/press releases/articles/presentations from the company directly within the past month, but only found two. We checked for such information within CARFAX's press center and blog, plus we conducted a press scan for any articles that might have provided such information, but those sources only yielded two statements from the company within the past month.

1. COVID-19

  • One statement that CARFAX published in the past month was on social media and pertains to COVID-19.
  • CARFAX published that same statement on its Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages.
  • The post states the following: "WE'RE HERE IF YOU NEED US. It's an uncertain and unprecedented time for everyone. CARFAX has been in the auto industry for over three decades, and we've never seen anything like the COVID-19 crisis. It's affecting the health of all of our families, friends and businesses in a profound way . . . and we're still figuring things out. In the meantime, we will continue to be a resource for you to shop, buy, service and sell used cars with confidence. As we continue to navigate this situation together, let us know how we can best serve you."
  • The description that CARFAX included for that social media post states the following: "We know transportation is a necessity for many. If you find yourself needing the history of a vehicle, a service shop to fix an untimely issue, or help navigating the used car buying process, we'll be here. #Coronavirus #COVID19."

2. CARFAX Canada

  • Within the past month, CARFAX Canada provided statements about how it's helping its employees and customers regarding COVID-19.
  • The first aspect of that statement from the company is that it's providing services via telephone and email, as its employees are "working from home." As such, "face-to-face visits and sales support collateral are not currently available."
  • CARFAX Canada also announced that for April 2020, customers will not be charged the ordinary $99 fee for account access, plus the company "is applying a 50% credit for all VHR subscriptions . . . and . . . will not charge for its valuation products."
  • Furthermore, CARFAX Canada announced that it "will credit 100% of the subscription cost for the Vehicle Valuation Report and Vehicle Trade-in Widget."

Economic Impact

  • The only signs of recent, negative economic impact on the company that we found were about the used vehicle market in general (the market in which the company operates), without specific mention of impacts to CARFAX.
  • In April 2020, JPMorgan reported that prices for used cars might drop by over 15% due to COVID-19, "as demand for vehicles plummets."
  • If that 15% decline occurs, it would surpass the price drop for used cars that occurred during the 2008/09 recession.
  • The automobile analyst for JPMorgan, Ryan Brinkman, provided the following statement to "clients on April 8" [2020] about the vehicle market in the U.S.: "While visibility is limited in the current unprecedented environment, most economists expect a demand shock substantially greater than in 2008/2009, although with a potentially shorter duration."
  • In an article published April 7, 2020, Cox Automotive reported that net volume for sales of used vehicles in March 2020 in the U.S. was 18.4% lower than it was in March 2019.
  • Cox Automotive also stated the following in the aforementioned article about the used vehicle market in the U.S.: "We estimate the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) of used vehicle sales in March [2020] to be 32.0 million, down from 39.2 million last March and down from February’s 39.8 million rate. The March used retail SAAR estimate is 17.3 million, down from 20.6 million last year and down month over month from February’s 21.2 million rate."


  • The only innovation within the past month that we found pertained to CARFAX Canada, which was mentioned in the first statement from the company that we provided above. That innovation pertained to the company's operations, as its employees are "working from home" and are thus conducting business solely through phone and email.
  • Since we could only find one way that CARFAX is innovating from sources published within the past month, we expanded the scope of our research to the past three months. That expansion of our research scope was necessary after having reviewed the company's website, press center, blog, and conducting a press scan, from which we only found one example of innovation reported within the past month.
  • In an article published on February 28, 2020, Auto Remarketing reported that CARFAX announced that week that reports for vehicle history now provided information to insurers regarding "more than 530 unique OEM vehicle attributes categorized into five segments." Those five segments are (1) security/safety, (2) infotainment/HMI, (3) convenience/comfort, (4) drivetrain/chassis, and (5) "[b]ase vehicle characteristics."
  • CARFAX's Director of Insurance Underwriting, Dan Hill, commented on that innovation for vehicle attributes in stating the following: "Leveraging over 35 years of vehicle history data, insurers finally have the ability to actuarially evaluate and price for the unique equipment configuration on specific cars and trucks."
  • In February 2020, CARFAX announced that it was launching its inaugural awards called "Top-Rated Dealers." The awards are given to auto dealerships "based on more than a million verified reviews from actual customers." The dealers that received the inaugural awards from CARFAX had a 4.7/5 rating on average.
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Car Gurus Briefing

Statements that CarGurus has published in the past month related to their business include extending the billing discount for dealerships in the US and Canada, providing customers with contactless options to purchase vehicle, and employee layoffs. During the month of April, the company introduced a new ad format to drive traffic, increased user experience with updated SRP layout, and changed its free and paid listings products.

Statements Relating to the Company’s Business

Extending the Billing Discount for Dealerships in US and Canada

Providing Customers with Contactless Options to Purchase Vehicle

Laying Off Staff

  • CarGurus also announced that it is taking several cross-cutting measures in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. In particular, the company made the decision of reducing its global workforce by 13%. Prior to the outbreak, the company had 921 full-time employees.
  • In addition, CaGurus announced it plans to reduce the pay of its board members and executives by 50 percent over the next three months.

Signs of Negative Economic Impacts on CarGurus

A Plunge in Prices and Demand of Used Vehicle

  • CarGurus updated in its blog that COVID-19 has affected the demand for used vehicle globally. According to the company, as jobless claims rise to 22 million, many people have opted to put their purchase plans on hold. Also, those with jobs no longer think of making purchases since they have lost confidence in the economy.
  • As the sales rate of used vehicle fall, CarGurus reported that the rate at which dealers restock their inventory has equally declined. This indicates a reduction in the company’s overall sales, thus, impacting its overall revenue.

Negative Sentiments among CarGurus Shoppers

  • In analyzing consumer sentiment trends among CarGurus shoppers, George Augustaitis, the company’s Director of Automotive Industry and Economic Analysis, reported that consumers are not having confidence in the economy during the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • As of March 16, 54% of the shoppers had indicated that the economy was worse compared to the previous week, a sentiment that was associated with the increasing jobless claims.
  • With low confidence in the economy, CarGurus projects that many consumers will turn to used vehicle because of low prices as others postpone their purchasing decisions until they are more positive about the economy and their job security. The reduced demand reflects the company’s economic turmoil.

Ways in Which the Company is Innovating its Operations

Driving Traffic with New Ad Format

  • In early April, CarGurus announced that it had added a new banner ad format to its offsite display ads to allow the company’s ads to “fit into more ad slots across the web,” broadening its reach and impact for dealers.
  • The company’s ad format update applies to all customers with an Audience Targeting product or the Standard/Premier/Unlimited packages.

Increasing User Experience with Updated SRP Layout

  • CarGurus also launched a new look to its Search Results Page (SRP) that is believed to increase shopper engagement. With the new layout, customers can now see search results showing in tiles, which enables larger photos and direct lead.

Changes to the Company’s Free and Paid Listings Products

  • On April 1, CarGurus also announced that it is making temporary changes to its free and paid Listings services. Specifically, the company stated that it is offering a “suspended activity” option to its paying customers who decide to cancel their subscriptions as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Dealers who will have suspended status will not be charged for any delayed contacts and will continue to get leads in real-time.
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Car AutoNation Briefing

AutoNation (AN) is the largest automotive dealer in the US. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted its operations. AN's management has openly admitted the negative economic impact, and has fought back in harsh and innovative ways.

Digital/external communication

  • In the last month, AutoNation's external communication on social media has spanned from the #DrivePinK campaign to showing solidarity and gratitude towards doctors, nurses, and first-responders to the COVID-19 crisis. The company has also disclosed that AN's #DrivePink initiative "has raised over $20 million for cancer-related causes."
  • On 02 April 2020, AutoNation laid out the actions taken to mitigate the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The step came as a pertinent attempt to reassure its customers and employees with open and transparent updates.
  • On 15 April 2020, AutoNation used its Twitter channel to provide updates on how the company is putting customer health and well-being first by sending #DrivePink face masks to its stores across the country.
  • Nonetheless, the AN's messaging on social media channels has also been centered on its IndyCar iRacing Challenge, a virtual race on a motorsports simulation platform.

Signs of negative impact

  • March 2020: The US retail sales dropped by 8,7%, while motor vehicle and parts dealers witnessed a sales decline of 25.6%. Since 11 March 2020, when COVID-19 reached pandemic status according to the World Health Organization (WHO), AutoNation's stock has decreased by approximately 11.2% and is currently trading at $34.34.
  • According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from 02 April 2020, "the COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted, and is expected to continue to adversely impact, AutoNation's operations." Markets from which AN derives approximately 95% of its total revenue have been under strict restrictions, which has significantly restricted operations.
  • 03 April 2020: AN management announced "significant declines in new and used vehicle unit sales, including a year-over-year decline of approximately 50% during the last two weeks of March 2020." The auto dealership chain disclosed that it had furloughed 7000 employees, implemented executive pay cuts, and imposed a hiring freeze to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 03 April 2020: AutoNation reduced advertising expenses by approximately 50% for the second quarter of 2020. The company significantly reduced its discretionary spending and postponed more than $50 million of capital expenditures.

Innovative ways in the COVID-19 fightback match

  • On 07 April 2020, AutoNation announced that it would hold a virtual-only format of its 2020 annual stockholders' meeting. The decision came in the light of current public health concerns, and the meeting was scheduled for 22 April 2020. AN has designed the format "to ensure that stockholders are afforded the same rights and opportunities to participate as they would at an in-person meeting."
  • IndyCar iRacing Challenge is a racing event organized on iRacing, a virtual motorsports simulation platform founded in 2004. iRacing competition was designed after COVID-19 has shut down IndyCar Challenge, a car race event used by AutoNation to market its fundraising #DrivePink campaign and gain visibility. IndyCar iRacing Challenge — Circuit of Americas is scheduled for 25 April 2020.
  • AutoNation's management played the 'essential service' card to keep its doors open amid the COVID-19 outbreak. "You have millions of workers who still have to get to their jobs in health care and all types of industries like that, and they need their vehicles," said Marc Cannon, AN's chief marketing officer, on 28 March 2020.
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Car Buyer Behavior Changes

Automotive industry consumer behavior has shifted considerably within the past month, with consumers delaying auto purchases and moving to online channels to research, shop for, and purchase their automobiles. Consumers also appear to be moving away from public transport and ride-sharing toward personal automobiles, showing heightened concerns about safety in their shopping and purchase journey, and considering the use of stimulus checks for car buying or leasing. Top search queries focus largely on the online consumer journey for car purchasing, identifying top websites for buying a car online, and finding calculators to help estimate the cost of buying a car. Automotive industry behavior shifts and top search terms follow.

Consumers Delaying Automobile Purchases

  • According to survey results referenced by McKinsey on April 3, 2020, 70% of US automobile buyers now say they will either defer their automobile purchase by at least six months, or reconsider the purchase altogether. A decline in consumer sentiment surrounding COVID-19 has created an environment in which automotive analysts now say that car buying is driven by necessity, versus 'want'.
  • A CarGurus survey notes that 79% of consumers are waiting on their car purchase, but are still willing to buy eventually.
  • This same survey notes that only 8% of 2020 auto shoppers claim to be delaying their purchase indefinitely. Even among those who are delaying their purchase, 68% are 'actively researching' a potential car purchase.
  • Hesitancy among consumers is reflected in negative financial results of car manufacturers in the US market during quarter 1, 2020, with Ford posting a 13% Q1 year-over-year (YOY) sales decline, GM reporting a 7% Q1 YOY sales decline, and Hyundai reporting an 11% Q1 YOY sales decline (43% decline in March).
  • Eric Lyman, Chief Industry Analyst at TrueCar, expects April car sales to decline roughly 50% as a result of the deferment of automobile purchases.

Consumers Shifting To Online Shopping and Purchasing

  • Results of a CarGurus survey among 2020 automobile shoppers indicates that consumers are more open to shopping online than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, 32% of respondents claimed they were open to shopping for a car online, increasing to 61% post-pandemic.
  • A survey of over 3,000 general population respondents ending March 25, 2020, showed an increase in online engagement among car shoppers.
  • Alex Vetter, CEO of highlights the increase engagement with digital mediums in the car shopping process: "Though showroom visits are declining nationwide, the auto industry has the technology and digital tools available to meet shoppers where they are. Digital retailing, home-delivery options, increased comfort and reliance on chat tools to connect with shoppers in real-time and enhanced engagement with social channels are very valuable mediums for dealers to generate sales during this challenging period.
  • Beyond research and shopping, forty-eight percent of respondents the survey say they are willing to handle price negotiations online (up from 45% in an earlier survey), while 42% are interested in handling financing online (up from 38% in a previous survey).
  • Some dealers expect movement of the car buying process toward online channels, which has accelerated during COVID-19, to represent a permanent shift in consumer behavior.
  • Doug North, chairman of the North American International Auto Show, says with respect to the shift in consumer behavior from in-person to online, "We’re seeing a fundamental change in the way cars will be sold."
  • Ryan LaFontaine, COO of LaFontaine Auto Group in Michigan also notes the growing importance of online channels: "People are changing their buying habits. Online platforms are as important as brick and mortar."
  • Rick Ricart, chairman of the National Auto Dealers association expects a fundamental business model dealership change as a result of this migration toward e-commerce: "By the end of this year, you’re going to see 80%-90% of U.S. new car dealers with full e-commerce capability in their shops to handle everything online but the test drive and — maybe — the final signature"
  • Dealers are responding to the online shift in consumer behavior, with 36% of dealers saying they are expanding online chat options, 40% offering online estimates for trade-ins, and 49% claiming to offer online delivery of purchased automobiles.

Consumers Migrating From Public Transportation to Automobiles

  • Sixteen-percent of US consumers surveyed by say they have historically relied on public transportation or ride sharing for transportation. Of this 16%, the vast majority are shifting automobile use, either using their own car (46%), walking (39%), or buying their own car (26%).
  • Dealerinspire, which leverages technology-focused solutions to support dealers and improve the car shopping experience, notes that safety concerns associated with COVID-19 are driving the shift to increased personal auto usage from public transportation and ride-sharing.

Consumers Moving Toward Domestic and Non-Luxury Car Brands

  • With respect to sales, Toyota saw an 8% decline in YOY Q1 2020 US auto sales, while its luxury brand, Lexus, was down 16%. Similarly, Honda posted a 19% decline in Q1 YOY sales, while its Acura luxury model was down 22% during the same period. Luxury brand, BMW, dropped 15% during the same period, while Porsche dropped 20%.

Health and Safety Concerns Driving Automobile Purchase Journey

  • CarGurus online sentiment survey found that 61% of consumers felt it was safer to purchase from a dealership than a third party, driven in part by contact-less solutions offered by dealers, such as at-home test drives and virtual appointments.
  • Results of the survey found that 28% of new car buyers who do not currently own a car are purchasing a new car due to distrust with the cleanliness of others' vehicles.
  • A recent article by CarGurus discusses how to safely buy a car during the Coronovirus outbreak, which includes recommendations such as online shopping, home delivery, and elevated expectations of sanitizing.
  • This Forbes articles suggests that the current COVID-19 crisis and its associated focus on health and safety will accelerate the consumer trend toward in-vehicle health and wellness features.
  • Some of these features include air-purification (such as Tesla's air-filtration system), germ-killing features, such as ultra-violet technology, and even health-focused features that help diagnose ailments and provide help in the event of an emergency.

Economic Stimulus Checks May Drive Increased Auto Purchasing

  • A recent CarGurus poll indicated that 28% of consumers felt their economic stimulus check would be used to purchase or lease a car (though 32% claimed their check would not be used for this purpose).
  • This article from US News suggests it might make financial sense for those in a solid financial position to buy or finance a car with their stimulus check, as many dealers are offering lower prices and financing incentives. However, they encourage those who are having issues managing necessities and have a car in good condition not to consider using their stimulus check to purchase a car.
  • Experian suggests consumers use their stimulus for essential needs or debt repayment, which could include automotive-related expenses, such as gas, automobile insurance, or paying back an auto loan.

Top Search Queries/Topic Related To Automobile Purchases

  • The top 5 topics related to automobile purchasing in the United States in the past 30 days are 'Car-Transportation mode', 'Used car', 'Lease', 'Car dealership', and 'Website'.
  • The top 5 queries related to automobile purchasing in the United States in the past 30 days are 'online car buying', 'car buyer sites', 'USAA car buying', 'car buying calculator', and 'buying a car online'. Additional top queries include 'buying a car during coronavirus' and 'buying a car out of state'.

Online Car Buying

  • This search term is related to automobile purchasing as it helps uncover information about browsing and buying new and used cars online. This CarsDirect site, which helps users 'price, search and buy new and used cars', is an example front page result of this search query.

Car Buying Sites

  • This search term is related to automobile purchasing as it yields results for top car buying sites (such as, which helps a user search for automobiles online), as well as several summaries of 'best car buying sites', such as this article by CreditKarma.

USAA Car Buying

Car Buying Calculator

  • This search term yields results related to understanding costs associated with purchasing an automobile. Sample query results include this calculator from LendingTree, which helps a user estimate monthly automobile payments given a specific interest rate, loan amount, and loan period.

Buying a Car Online

  • This search term yields similar results to the query, 'online car buying', but also provides query results that help the user with the process of buying a car online, including this US News article, 'How to Buy a Car Online in 8 Steps.'

Research Strategy

To identify ways that consumer behavior in the automotive industry is shifting in the past month, we leveraged auto industry-focused surveys (such as those from and CarGuru), industry-focused research (McKinsey, Dealerinspire and Mintel), and expert publications, such as Forbes. Behavior shifts were identified by a combination of survey results, industry insights, and industry sales and website traffic metrics.

We leveraged Google Trends to identify the top 5 search queries/topics that consumers searched for in the United States related to automobile purchasing in the past 30 days. We found that the term 'automobile purchasing' did not provide substantial insight into the top queries/topics, and therefore substituted this term with 'car buying' to generate the top topics/queries provided in this research.


From Part 01
  • "Like so many others, Cox Automotive is looking for every opportunity to keep our people healthy, to keep our partners’ and clients’ businesses healthy, and to do our part to prevent the virus from spreading further."
  • "However, everything changed as the month progressed. Three-year-old vehicle values in aggregate were up 1.7% after the first two weeks but began to decline and ended the month up 1%."
  • "Across the industry, showroom traffic is down upwards of 80 percent on a year-over-year basis, the number of scheduled service appointments is off more than 50 percent, and the show rate on service appointments has dropped nearly 90 percent."
From Part 06
  • "Pre-pandemic, nearly one in five consumers said they planned to purchase their next vehicle within the next six months, according to Mintel research on creating loyalty in automotive. As consumers grow wearier about their financial outlook, automakers can expect this number to drop significantly as most consumers will hold on to their vehicles longer and will only make purchases out of need."
  • "Because consumers are being actively encouraged to social distance and only leave their house for necessities, auto maintenance providers and repair shops can expect an immediate slowdown in business."
  • "according to Mintel’s COVID-19 consumer data from March 27- April 2, 2020, two in five consumers said they are avoiding public transportation because of the pandemic. It can be expected that post-pandemic, all transportation providers will need to communicate to consumers what they’re doing to ensure consumer health safety while traveling."
  • "As social distancing becomes the refrain for our battle with the Coronavirus, it’s no wonder that 55% of shoppers now say they prefer NOT to visit the physical dealership."
  • "With online shopping becoming the norm, consumers expect to be able to do more, if not most, of the car-buying process from the convenience of their own laptop or mobile device"
  • "In fact, 29% of consumers now plan to postpone service/repair work for fear of exposure to COVID-19. "
  • "Throughout the course of COVID-19 we have been noticing that the digital performance of dealerships selling domestic brands have been significantly more resilient compared to Import and Luxury dealers. While this does hold true for Sales, the most significant separation is observed with website traffic and leads."
  • "Out of the 16% of consumers nationwide who stated they primarily rely on public transportation and ride sharing, the vast majority said they will now start to rely on personal transportation, whether it’s their current car (46%), a friend or relative’s car (24%), or a new car they are planning to buy (26%). "
  • "Fifty-four percent of consumers are no longer considering the purchase of big-ticket items (homes, cars, trips, luxury goods) over the next three months."
  • "Data was sourced from a census-weighted panel of 866 consumers on the Suzy platform, and collected in real time between March 18th and March 19th."
  • "Mar. 26 survey of US auto consumers indicates 70% of car buyers are deferring purchases by 6 months, or no longer intending to purchase."
  • "Coronavirus has dealerships moving to online sales, and car buying may never be the same"
  • "The way we buy cars may never be the same as auto dealers adjust to working under COVID-19 restrictions and customers discover they prefer the new approach, which leans heavily on internet sales and vehicle demos and could include valet-style pickup and delivery service for everything from test drives to oil changes."
  • "Workers at motor vehicle dealerships who are necessary to facilitate remote and electronic sales or leases, or to deliver motor vehicles to customers, provided that showrooms remain closed to in-person traffic.""
  • "People are changing their buying habits. Online platforms are as important as brick and mortar.”"
  • "The CarGurus Covid-19 Sentiment Study gauged responses by 722 consumers who said they had planned to buy a vehicle this year. "
  • "As for whether or not prospective vehicle shoppers planned to use their stimulus money toward a purchase or lease, 202 or 28% of 719 respondents in another CarGurus poll taken in the past week said they would, while 230, or 32% said they would not. An almost equal number of the remaining 287 respondents said they either did not qualify for a stimulus payment or hadn’t made up their minds."