- A new report from Edmunds reveals that buyers spent a record-high average of $30,803 on new cars last year.
- Shoppers are spending more time than ever on research before making a purchasing decision, according to the report.
- The report states that record numbers of consumers are seeking information through smartphone apps and other high-tech sources.
SANTA MONICA, California — Consumers are spending more on cars and they're spending more time shopping for cars, according to the newly released 2013 Car Shopping Trends Report from Edmunds.
The report used information from the extensive Edmunds databases to reveal shopping and buying trends throughout 2012, comparing them to statistics from previous years. As noted in the report, "while these insights have always been readily available to our business partners and to the public through academic and media requests, never before have they been assembled together in one coherent piece."
According to the report, vehicle buyers spent a record average of $30,803 on the purchase of new vehicles last year. As part of that total sale price, they also spent an average of $2,200 on optional equipment, with floor mats, wheels, and navigation systems topping the list of extras.
Two out of three vehicle shoppers consider themselves "highly engaged" in the process, and to prove it, they're spending 2 percent more time on the Edmunds.com Web site than they did in 2011. The report indicates that while visiting the site, 63 percent of shoppers read model reviews, 49 percent were looking for pricing information and 34 percent checked out photos.
Clearly the extra browsing time is worthwhile. According to the report, Edmunds visitors who looked at new-car inventories were four times more likely than average to make a purchase. Those who read road tests were 3.5 times more likely to buy. And shoppers who looked at photos were twice as likely to end up with a new car.
The Edmunds Mobile Car apps for iPad, iPhone, and Android are also increasing in popularity, with usage up by 6 percent over the previous year. After visiting Edmunds for research, shoppers tended to rely on mobile devices to contact a dealer, with choices evenly split between phoning, texting, and e-mailing.
Although the report states that the dollar amount spent on vehicles has reached a record high, buyers ended up spending 11 percent less than they expected to pay. Interestingly, the average vehicle discount percentage also was 11 percent, a record low since Edmunds began tracking discounts in 2002.
Although 86 percent of shoppers say they intend to buy their vehicles, leasing is more popular than ever, after dropping to low points in 2003 and again in 2009. The price advantage is clear, according to the report. The difference between the average monthly finance payment of $468 and the average lease payment of $433 is greater than at any time since Edmunds started keeping those records.
Brand loyalty has remained relatively constant over a three-year period, the report states. Around 49 percent of shoppers say they intend to stay with their current manufacturer, and 44 percent of vehicles traded were swapped for a model within the same brand. The trend toward loyalty doesn't apply to owners of luxury cars, however. More of them are considering a change to non-luxury models.
This report and other innovations, like the new Edmunds Price Promise Program, are part of a continuing effort to provide consumers with all the information they need to make informed car-buying decisions.
Seth Berkowitz, president and CFO of Edmunds, noted: "This is just the first in a series of reports that we hope will shed more light on car shopping behavior. We sincerely hope that these findings will open up a dialogue to improve the industry."
Edmunds says: The trends in this report should "offer direct clues toward ways that the automotive industry can move toward a more engaging car shopping experience."