Though there were improvements, new car buyers said the purchase process took longer than expected. - IMAGE: Pexels

Though there were improvements, new car buyers said the purchase process took longer than expected.

IMAGE: Pexels

Car buyers had a relatively easy time purchasing a new car in September, despite resurfacing inventory concerns and labor difficulties, reported CDK in a recap of its monthly survey of new-car buyers.

CDK reports that 83% of new-car buyers said the overall process of buying their vehicle was easy, up 1% increase over August and close to the average observed since tracking began in July 2022.

It said the number should be viewed positively because the survey showed the percentage of people who found their car in stock dropped from 51% to 47%.

However, the trends could change because the data was collected before workers for the Big Three automakers went on strike, according to CDK.

Although the 47% rate is still high compared to the 12-month average, the recent reduction in gains “paints a murky picture,” it says. The survey shows more buyers had to resort to buying a car in transit—24% in September versus 21% in August—and ordering from the factory—19% versus 16% in August.

In 2022, when supply chain issues limited production, shoppers commonly faced stock shortages. However, September's shortage appears to have no clear cause, according to CDK.

Labor issues have resulted in shutdowns of some assembly and supplier locations, which shrinks inventory for many brands throughout the rest of the year, CDK says. That will shift demand toward unaffected brands, increasing their inventory value, it noted.

A decrease in inventory did make test drives more difficult for buyers in September, dropping the ease of the process from 83% in August to 74%.

On the bright side, nearly two-thirds of buyers found it easy to agree on a final price, up from 56% in August. More people also reported it was easier to apply for credit: 63% compared to 58% in August.

However, CDK reported that only 49% of buyers found that agreeing to the value of their trade-in was easy, up from 45% in August but below average and below 50% for the third consecutive month. CDK cited the used-car market's instability and its impact on used-car values as possible reasons.

Time spent at the dealership also got negative marks, 37% of buyers saying the process took longer than expected, up from 31% in August. Inventory shortage and test drive difficulties likely caused the figure to erase August's improvements, CDK says.


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