Since the last week of March, most people in America (if not the world) have seen their life change in some way, shape, or form because of COVID. One such change has been consumer’s driving habits. For many, the daily commute has been eliminated along with frequent trips to the store, gym, school, childcare facility, etc. While many, if not most, will eventually return to their previous driving habits, the current decrease in driving and increase in staying home has the potential to impact shopping activity. In particular, I wondered about how such a significant shift in consumer behavior might be influencing shoppers’ search behavior for vehicles.
To answer this question, I looked at new vehicle search volume on CarGurus for the first half of 2020 and compared it to the search volume we saw for the same criteria in 2019.
Consumers are fixated on pickup trucks in 2020
The biggest change in search behavior between the first half of 2020 and the first half of 2019 was for the search volume for the Chevrolet Silverado 1500. Through the first half of 2019, the Silverado was the most searched vehicle in five US states. Through the first half of 2020, the Chevrolet Silverado was the top searched vehicle in 25 states, overtaking the Ford F-150 in many places.
The shift in search volume this year was likely driven by product changes. Chevrolet redesigned its 2019 Silverado with several updates, including a new 3.0-liter turbodiesel inline 6-cylinder engine and a new bed-view camera. The CarGurus editorial team recently reviewed the vehicle here. The competing Ford F-150 won’t have its latest model out until the fall of 2020, which is why it might be seeing some pullback in search. Though the F-Series will likely still hold the crown of top selling vehicle in 2020, if the shift in search persists, it could help the Chevrolet Silverado regain its spot as the number two selling vehicle in the US.
Overall, it’s interesting to see pickup trucks as the most searched vehicle in every area of the country, except for Washington, DC where the Dodge Charger dominated search results, so far this year. Search volume in 2019 was a bit more diverse in terms of body style with pickup trucks, SUVs, crossovers, and sedans all in the mix. With gas prices so low right now, it won’t be surprising to see pickup trucks continue to have control over search in the second half of the year.
CarGurus top searched new vehicle by state: First half of 2020 vs. First half of 2019
What does this mean for used car dealers?
As consumers across the country continue to search for pickup trucks, it’s crucial for you to consider not only for inventory management purposes but in how you price your inventory. It’s clear that lots of consumers want pickup trucks, but pickup trucks can be very expensive, and many people can only afford to buy them used. Pricing competitively to your market will help drive both sales and customer loyalty for your dealership, no matter what kind of vehicles you’re selling.
Want to get more granular? Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the top three searched new vehicles in your DMA.