PRESS RELEASE

Cars.com Shoppers Logged a Record 30 Million Hours on the Platform Last Year, as More Americans Turn to Car Ownership

One Year Into the COVID-19 Pandemic, Purchasing Timelines Are Faster, First-Time and Urban Car Buyers Increased, and New and Used Prices Inch Higher

 

CHICAGO, March 10, 2021 — One year from the start of a historic worldwide pandemic that changed commerce and transportation, maybe permanently, leading automotive digital marketplace and solutions provider Cars.com Inc. (NYSE: CARS) today unveiled new insights about the pandemic’s impact on car buying and selling. Shoppers logged a record 30 million hours on Cars.com over the last year as the stay-at-home economy took hold, representing a 9% increase since March 2020.1  There were also significant jumps in first-time and urban buyers entering the auto market, reflecting a shift away from public or shared transportation and a heightened demand for the freedom and security provided by car ownership. 

More Americans are prioritizing car ownership. A Cars.com national survey of over 1,500 online respondents revealed that 36% of those who purchased a new or used car since March 2020 were first-time car buyers. This trend is accompanied by accelerated purchasing timelines, growing demand for technology and safety features, and an average price increase for new and used vehicles.

“One year ago, our world changed as we shifted to digital-first and faced significant transformations in work, travel and commerce. Americans quarantined in their homes found a new appreciation for their cars, which offered a much needed, safe escape and an extension of home during uncertain times,” said Alex Vetter, CEO of Cars.com Inc. “As the U.S. begins to open up, the durable trends we have witnessed in car shopping and selling over the last year will shape the future of automotive and ensure a strong retail environment in 2021. Our next normal demands convenient virtual experiences, online car-buying options and local home delivery.” 

Cars.com tracked COVID-19’s impact on car shopping and selling since last March, observing the following significant consumer shifts:

  • Pandemic continues to advance purchasing timelines: Cars.com found nearly 60% of car buyers reported the pandemic influenced their decision to purchase a vehicle, with more than 50% buying sooner than originally planned.2  
  • Local dealers will bring it to you: At-home delivery and virtual services by local dealerships skyrocketed over the last year. Since the pandemic started, 20 million vehicles listed on Cars.com have been available for contactless, local home delivery.1
  • Urban car owners take the wheel: In the past year, 38% of car buyers were in urban areas, where the pandemic accelerated car ownership even further; 3 out of 4 city dwellers cited the pandemic as influencing their decision to buy. Urban buyers were also three times more likely to buy an EV than their suburban counterparts.2
  • New or used, cars are selling faster, and for more: Increased demand, supply challenges and a global chip shortage led to rising prices for consumers. New-vehicle average prices rose 4.8% year over year and notably sold 22 days faster on Cars.com compared to pre-pandemic. Used-vehicle average prices increased 9.7% year over year and sold five days faster on Cars.com from the same period a year ago.
  • Tech, safety and versatility are increasingly important: Americans chose to drive more frequently and longer distances; at the same time, cars became extensions of homes and offices. Predictably, shoppers sought features that would provide more comfort, connection and peace of mind. The following features saw the largest upticks in 2020 searches1 :
    • Tow Hitch +55.4% YoY
    • Cooled Seats +36.3% YoY
    • Heated Steering Wheel +34.0% YoY
    • Apple CarPlay/Android Auto +24.3% YoY
    • Rear Cross-Traffic Alert +116.5% YoY

For more information about 2021 car-buying and selling trends, visit Cars.com/news/coronavirus/.

1 Cars.com Internal Data

2 Cars.com’s survey results Feb. 19, 2021; 1,510 respondents

CARS is driving the future of automotive retail with innovative digital marketplace solutions for consumers, dealer customers and major automotive manufacturers. Our brands (Cars.com, Dealer Inspire, DealerRater) create “car chemistry” by connecting buyers and sellers, matching people with their perfect car, and inspiring a better shopping, selling and buying experience. We are leaders in innovation who thrive on change. We believe in “career chemistry” and match our employees’ passions with opportunities to push the boundaries in the automotive and tech industries together. Our tech is nothing without our team of creative, passionate people who are putting the pedal to the metal every day to reinvent the car shopping experience.

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Cars.com invented car search. Our site and suite of innovative solutions connect buyers and sellers to match people with their perfect car.

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