In the three years to 2020, Americans bought about 17 million new cars a year. Dealer closings and supply chain issues plummeted just after the pandemic hit the industry hard in April 2020. The industry did not recover that year.
The pent-up demand could not be met by the industry in 2021 and so far this year. Shortages of parts, especially microchips used in automotive electronics systems, caused manufacturers’ inventories to plummet. People have had to wait months for cars that they could once get in weeks. The lack of vehicles has pushed car prices to record levels. Some people have grown to stick with cars for longer. The average age of a vehicle on the road in 2021 was 12 years. That’s more than any other year ever.
People’s buying patterns are still based on price, mileage and quality considerations. Several organizations publish carefully monitored brand reviews. The leaders of this research are JD Power and Consumer Reports. Purchasing decisions are often based on their research.
Americans continue to shop despite the lack of supply. Demand patterns are analyzed by Cox Automotive. Every quarter it publishes a Brand Watch report of both the mass market and luxury cars. The report provides an overview of the car brands people consider when shopping. It also reports on car segments and specific models.
Among the luxury brands, BMW topped the list of considerations, and it held that position with a wide margin of 21%. It was followed by Cadillac and Lexus at 17%. Cadillac’s position is a big surprise. It is conveniently sold by Lexus, the luxury brand of Toyota, and other luxury brands Mercedes and Audi. Audi came in at 15%. EV market leader Tesla recorded the same level.
When the parts shortage ends, these top brands will see an increase in sales. Presumably, the ones consumers consider most will be the winners.