Post-clunkers consumers more willing to put off new-car purchase

(October 9, 2009) IRVINE, Calif. —  According to the latest Kelley Blue Book  Market Intelligence Study, since the end of the CARS 2009 program (commonly referred to as ‘Cash for Clunkers’), in-market car shoppers have indicated they are once again delaying the purchase of a new vehicle.  However, the price consumers are considering paying for a new car has significantly increased in the month since the CARS 2009 program ended.

In September, 50 percent of in-market car shoppers said they are delaying the purchase of a new vehicle, up nine points from 41 percent in July 2009 (prior to the start of the CARS program).  In addition, consumers indicate that in the past month they are less likely to be persuaded to change their purchase time frame due to the availability of incentives, rebates and special financing offers.  In September, 63 percent say the availability of incentives has not affected their timing plans at all, up 10 points from consumers who said the same in August.

However, in the past month alone, the average amount of money shoppers say they are willing to pay for their next new car has increased $1,671.  In September, shoppers said they would be willing to spend an average of $27,271 on their next new car, up from August  when they said they would spend an average of $25,600.

“With the ongoing economic recession and the Cash for Clunkers stimulus program over, the latest Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence data shows that availability of incentives and rebates is no longer enough to persuade car shoppers to deviate from their intended purchase time frame,” said James Bell, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book’s  “Although shoppers say they are delaying their purchase time frame, at least when they do hit the dealerships they’ll be willing to stretch their wallets a bit further and spend more, resulting in a higher dealer and manufacturer profits.”

Additionally, a current hot-button issue in many states is whether to issue (or re-issue) carpool-lane stickers to hybrid vehicles.  A May 2009 quick-poll on asked consumers how likely they would be to buy a hybrid if carpool-lane stickers were available for those vehicles, and a majority (55 percent) of car shoppers said they would be more likely to consider buying a hybrid if they could get a carpool-lane sticker.

The latest Kelley Blue Book Market Intelligence study was fielded to 553 in-market car shoppers on Kelley Blue Book’s from September 18-28, all of whom indicated they currently own a vehicle and intend to purchase or lease a new or used vehicle within the next 12 months.