In the three years before 2020, Americans bought about 17 million new cars a year. Dealer closures and supply chain problems dropped just after the pandemic hit the industry hard in April 2020. The industry did not recover that year.
Pent-up demand could not be satisfied by the industry in 2021 and so far this year. Parts shortages, particularly of microchips used in car electronics systems, meant manufacturer inventories plunged. People have had to wait months for cars they once could get in weeks. The lack of vehicles has pushed car prices to record levels. Some people have started to hold on to cars longer. The average age of a vehicle on the road topped 12 years in 2021. That is above any other year on record.
People’s buying patterns are still based on price, mileage, and quality considerations. Several organizations publish carefully followed evaluations of brands. The leaders of this research are J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. Purchase decisions are often based on their research.
Americans continue to shop despite the dearth of supply. Patterns of demand are analyzed by Cox Automotive. Each quarter, it puts out a Brand Watch report of both mass market and luxury cars. The report reviews which car brands people consider when they are shopping. It also reports on auto segments and specific models.
Among luxury brands, the list of consideration was topped by BMW, and it held that position by a wide margin at 21%. It was followed by Cadillac and Lexus at 17%. Cadillac’s position is a big surprise. It is handily outsold by Lexus, the luxury brand of Toyota, and other luxury brands Mercedes and Audi. Audi came in at 15%. EV market leader Tesla posted the same level.
When parts shortage ends, these top brands will see a surge in sales. Presumably, the ones consumers consider the most will be the winners.
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