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Lovestruck Car Shoppers Willing to Travel Farther Amid Inventory Shortage

Buying a car for Valentine's Day? You might have to go out of your way.

  • New vehicle inventory is down by nearly 20% compared to the same time last year, a problem made worse lately by a global semiconductor shortage
  • Dwindling new car supply means shoppers have to travel farther to buy — and they're up for it
  • According to Edmunds data, car shoppers are now willing to travel 65 miles on average, a 38% increase year over year

Since we're all stuck inside more often in these pandemic times, it's not surprising that consumer electronics sales have gone through the roof. But this spiking demand has had a knock-on effect on car production, as there is now a shortage of semiconductors to power the chipsets that make modern automobiles tick. That's on top of existing new-car inventory limitations due to factory shutdowns and other pandemic-related challenges.

So what's a lovestruck car shopper to do for Valentine's Day 2021?

Well, it might be a lot harder to find the car you love locally, which explains why car shoppers are now willing to travel 38% farther to buy than they were a year ago, according to a new Edmunds analysis.

"New car inventory was already tight due to coronavirus-related factory shutdowns from last year, and the current global chipset shortage has exacerbated the situation," said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds' executive director of insights. "But car shoppers aren't being dissuaded by the lack of inventory. They're demonstrating that they're ready to literally go the distance to get their hearts' desire, even in the midst of a pandemic."

Wondering which cars people are going the most extra miles for? Check out Edmunds' list of the Top 25 Most Desired Vehicles, based on the average distance between the person who submitted a lead and the vehicle itself.

Top 25 Most Desired Vehicles
Ranked by Greatest Average Lead Distance Submitted on Edmunds (2021 Model Year)
Edmunds logo
ToyotaGR Supra167
GMCSierra 3500HD161
LexusLX 570135
GMCSierra 2500HD132
FordF-350 Super Duty122
ToyotaLand Cruiser78
LexusIS 35077
MiniHardtop 2 Door70
Land-RoverRange Rover Sport63
VolkswagenJetta GLI63

Edmunds' Top Shopping Tips

  • Test-drive a similar vehicle closer to home. If the exact car you want is way out of town, schedule a test drive of a similar vehicle at your local dealership. You might discover that some of your must-haves are actually nice-to-haves that aren't worth the extra travel time. Dealerships also swap cars regularly, so it's possible your local dealer can work with the more distant one and have it shipped.

  • Get your trade-in appraisal online. If you're parting ways with your current car, we advise getting a real cash offer online, as it saves time and can be done from the comfort and safety of home.

  • Do as much paperwork at home as possible. Work with the dealer to complete the necessary paperwork online, including your loan application, so that you can spend minimal time at the dealership.

  • Ask about delivery. Some dealers will deliver your new vehicle to your door, so be sure to ask. You might be able to skip the big drive altogether.

Edmunds Says

It's not getting any easier to find your perfect car on dealer lots, but you can make it happen. Just be prepared to spend a little longer — or maybe a lot longer — getting there.