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High Gas Prices, New Vehicle Introductions and Incentives Influenced Online Car Shoppers in 2005

Fluctuating gas prices, more than 25 new-vehicle introductions and heavy discounting in the form of employee pricing incentives had the strongest impact on Cars.com consumer search activity in 2005.

Consumer traffic to Cars.com continued to grow in 2005, with average monthly increases in unique visitors reaching 47 percent. As more shoppers utilize online resources like Cars.com to research, buy and sell their vehicles in 2006 and beyond, Cars.com will continue to monitor search activity to gauge how various events affect the market.

Gas Prices

While gas prices have retreated over the past couple of months, their rise and fall continues to have a profound affect on the types of cars consumers search for on Cars.com.

Consumer search activity for fuel-efficient cars has a direct correlation with gas prices, with interest in fuel-efficiency waxing and waning in lockstep with prices at the pump. Searches for sport utility vehicles steadily declined as gas prices peaked in August and September. Despite a small rebound in October and November, consumer interest in SUVs has been slow to recover.

New-Car Releases

More than 25 new car models were introduced in 2005, including the Dodge Charger, Chevrolet HHR and Hummer H3. New-car introductions are typically accompanied by a significant marketing push that often helps boost overall search activity during the vehicle's initial launch on Cars.com.

The new-vehicle introductions that had the highest monthly search average from the time of their launch on Cars.com through November 2005 include the Hummer H3, Dodge Charger, Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac Solstice and Audi A3. Cars like the new Ford Fusion, which received a significant amount of searches in late November and December, were released too late in the season to have an impact on that list.

Total 2005 Searches

Manufacturer incentives — like the employee discount program launched this summer by General Motors, and similar programs from Ford and DaimlerChrysler — undeniably helped lift the Big Three in June. The incentive programs also helped boost searches for other makes and models during those months as overall visitors to Cars.com saw a spike in the summer months. That increase was followed by a decline after all the incentive programs ended.

As of mid-December, recent year-end incentives — including GM's Red Tag sale and Ford's Keep it Simple pricing — had not had the measurable impact that the summer incentives had on consumer activity on Cars.com.

For more information about the data in this release and the methodologies used to generate the information, please contact Cars.com's Steve Nolan at 312-601-5163.

About Cars.com

Cars.com lists more than 1.4 million vehicles from 10,000 dealer customers, classified advertisers and private parties to offer consumers the best selection of new and used cars online, as well as the content, tools and advice to support their shopping experience. Cars.com combines powerful inventory search tools and new-car configuration with pricing information, photo galleries, buying guides, side-by-side comparison tools, original editorial content and reviews to help millions of consumers connect with sellers each month.

About Classified Ventures

Launched in June 1998, Cars.com is a division of Classified Ventures, LLC, (http://classifiedventures.com), which is owned by six leading media companies including, Belo (NYSE: BLC), Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), Knight Ridder (NYSE: KRI), The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI), Tribune Company (NYSE: TRB) and The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO).

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