As the stock market see-saws between positive and negative territory on an almost daily basis, the chief question for automakers is, “Will people still buy our cars?” There’s no need to produce more vehicles if no one has plans to buy the ones already on dealership lots.
A recent Autolist survey of 1,500 current car shoppers found that many had worries about the economy but were still planning on buying a vehicle at some point this year.
Respondents submitted their answers between March 2 and March 24. On March 12, the COVID-19 outbreak was classified as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. The results received between March 2 and 11 were grouped together and those received post-pandemic announcement were grouped separately.
According to Autolist,
“Prior to the pandemic declaration on March 11, 80 percent of the car shoppers Autolist polled said they didn’t expect the coronavirus to affect their decision to buy a vehicle in 2020. That number fell to 60 percent for shoppers who responded after the pandemic declaration.”
Many automakers are recognizing the road ahead is uphill. They are currently offering heavy incentives and zero percent financing for qualified customers. Still, J.D. Power has revised its new vehicle sales projections for 2020 for 16.8 million sales to between 14 and 16 million, estimating that March sales will end up down around 41 percent from 2019.
Some vehicle sales companies, like Carvana, offer the opportunity to purchase a vehicle online, with very little human-to-human contact. Cadillac recently launched a virtual shopping experience and Ford is promoting low-risk vehicle maintenance services in addition to producing supplies for medical workers to use to help combat the effects of the coronavirus.