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Ride-Sharing Drops, Online Car Shopping Increases in Coronavirus’ Wake

2020 Toyota Camry TRD

Updated March 30, 2020: A new Cars.com survey found attitudes about car shopping in the midst of the coronavirus crisis have continued to shift as shoppers seek new ways to connect with their local dealerships.

It should come as no surprise that many dealers are seeing historically low foot traffic, or have closed their doors, due to the pandemic and stay-home decrees issued in many states. What is surprising is that millions are still actively car shopping on Cars.com, and that 80% of those are searching and viewing inventory listed on Cars.com. 

In our most recent survey, 48% of consumer respondents said they’re interested in handling price negotiations online — an increase from 45% of respondents in the previous survey — and 42% said they want to handle financing online, up from 38%. The general-population survey was fielded March 16-25, 2020, to people ages 23 to 73; it received 3,021 responses.

There was no change in the nearly 20% of respondents who said they’re considering buying a car with a sense of increased urgency. What has changed is that 43% said they’ve stopped using public transportation, up from the previous survey’s 40% of respondents. Those who said they distrust the cleanliness of others’ cars remained the same at 28%, but 42% of respondents — an uptick from 40% in the past survey — said they’re using less ride-hailing services less.

Editor’s note: We’ve updated this article with the latest Cars.com survey results. As more results come in, we’ll continue to publish updates.

Originally published March 20, 2020: For most of us, virtual reality is our new reality. For many, our daily lives have changed significantly in a bid to slow the coronavirus’ spread, with more of us shifting to a more digital existence. Our new normal is working from home instead of the office, conducting virtual happy hours with friends and even shopping for, well, everything online, including a car.

Related: Should I Buy a Car During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

More than 40% of respondents to a Cars.com survey said they’re using ride-sharing services less often since the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. Of these people, 93% said they’re using their personal cars more often. This Cars.com survey, which was fielded March 13-16, had 3,021 respondents ages 23-73.

Of course, not everyone owns a car, but Cars.com’s survey found that the pandemic is causing nearly 20% of the respondents to consider buying one. More than 40% said they’re considering buying a car because they no longer want to use public transportation, and 28% said they distrust the cleanliness of other people’s cars.

Of those who plan to buy a car, 1 in 3 are moving with greater speed due to coronavirus, according to the survey. Car shoppers also expressed an increased desire to complete more of the car-shopping process online, from price negotiations (45%) to online financing (38%).

The good news is that dealers are responding to car shoppers’ online needs. A separate Cars.com survey of 238 car dealers on March 16-17 found:

  • 77% offer online estimates for trade-ins
  • 72% offer online chat for negotiations
  • 60% have some digital retailing and financing options
  • 58% offer home delivery, and 29% of respondents are ramping up their capabilities

The coronavirus is having a real impact on daily life, but we’re all adapting to make the best of this new normal.

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Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.