A recent study conducted by Cox Automotive found that overall car buying satisfaction remains at a near-record level, despite inventory shortages and rising prices caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the latest Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study, 66 percent of new car buyers reported being highly satisfied with their shopping experience. This was down from the record high of 72 percent set in 2020, but was still surprisingly high given the various challenges the automotive industry is currently facing, said Vanessa Ton, senior manager of research and market intelligence at Cox Automotive.
“Despite external market factors that dealers cannot control, the car buying experience remains amazingly good,” said Ton. “Dealers have done a great job adapting to what consumers wanted during the pandemic and have permanently evolved the car buying journey in a personalized way that results in very high satisfaction even when consumers are contending with historically low inventory and record-high prices.”
General Motors is a good example of an automaker that has changed its car buying process for the better amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The automaker implemented an improved version of its Shop.Click.Drive online car shopping tool in November of 2020, which provides the user with payment and pricing information for a specific vehicle. Previously, Shop.Click.Drive only comprised an online car search tool, enabling the user to search within the GM dealership inventory for the vehicle they want. GM marketing boss Deborah Wahl said previously that Shop.Click.Drive saw a 50 percent surge in traffic in 2020 amid the pandemic and is “enabling larger parts of the purchase cycle to happen remotely.”
Cox Automotive said online search tools like Shop.Click.Drive and other digital tools, like Cadillac Live, for example, have “led to record-level satisfaction,” in the auto industry in recent years. The year-over-year drop in car buying satisfaction from 2020 to 2021 was mainly driven by rising prices connected to monetary inflation and the semiconductor chip shortage.
“Compared to 2020, consumers were understandably less satisfied with the price paid and the vehicle selection in 2021,” the publication said. “However, they were more satisfied with their engagement with the financing team, which was driven by the surge in satisfaction among those who were ‘all in’ with digital.”
GM is looking to expand its online marketplace presence with the introduction of a new parts marketplace this week, which will also eventually offer subscription services for sale, as well as other paid over-the-air updates and services.