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5 Trends in Car Shopping for 2019

Jack Nerad

The car shopping process is dreaded by many, but the good news is that it's changing for the better. Driven by consumers’ needs and wants, auto manufacturers, dealers, consultants, and tech firms have begun to approach the car-selling process in completely new ways. We've got the info on the five top trends in car shopping this year.

Trend 1: Vehicle subscriptions
Subscriptions to all kinds of products are all the rage right now, and some believe that cars are the next frontier for subscriptions. Imagine having just one bill to pay for your transportation each month — okay, two if you include your separate gasoline bill. With a subscription, car insurance, maintenance, repairs and the vehicle itself are all lumped into one predictable payment. Some subscription services also allow customers — often they call them “members” — to move from one vehicle to another during their subscription, adding significant flexibility.

Trend 2: Leasing
car leasing isn’t new, but the prevalence of leasing in the overall new-car market is. Experts say that at least 30 percent of new vehicles sold these days are leased, and it is changing the landscape of shopping. First, it essentially gives lessees a deadline to get their next vehicle. When their lease is up, they have to do something. Many find that once they are on the leasing merry-go-round, the logical thing for them is to lease their next vehicle…and their next…and their next. And leasing has radically changed the used-car market because hundreds of thousands of previously leased cars come back to dealers each year and need to be sold after just two or three years of service.

Trend 3: Shopping/Buying Services
A significant percentage of consumers dislike the car shopping process so much that they refuse to go to a dealer. Instead, they turn their interaction with the dealer over to a third party, an auto broker. Often the broker is affiliated with another type of retailer or an affinity group like an auto club or a credit union. There is a cost for taking this route to car-buying, but often a broker can get the customer a better deal than they might have gotten themselves had they engaged in traditional car-buying.

Trend 4: Techno Shopping
New online services and apps are enabling car buyers to complete the vast majority of the car shopping and buying process from the comfort of their couch while they binge-watch streaming video. Services like Honcker, Carvoy, Carvana, Roadster, and Vroom use tech to simplify and streamline the process. With these services, you can shop for vehicles, view cars and complete a significant portion of the “paperwork” without ever seeing a dealer.

Trend 5: Time Management
One of the biggest pain points for consumers is the inordinate amount of time it takes to purchase a vehicle. In this era of Amazon, when you can order a wide variety of products in the morning and have them on your doorstep that afternoon, consumers find it more and more frustrating that buying a car requires the better part of a day. Carmakers and dealers understand this, and some brands and dealer groups are making time management a high priority.