Cash for Clunkers Helps Drive Over 15 Million Visitors to AutoTrader.com for 8th Month in a Row
ATLANTA – September 3, 2009 – The Cash-for-Clunkers or CARS program brought some of the best sales so far this year for automakers, but also some of the highest average asking prices on new vehicles. As dealer inventories of new cars shrank due to the overwhelming success of the Federally-funded program, average asking prices for new vehicles generally crept up across the board, with only a few models noting slight declines. Some of the largest increases in pricing were registered by Ford, which saw a 16% average price increase on the new F-150 full-size pick-up, and a 13% average price increase on the new Fusion midsize sedan.
“With inventories having been cleared out by Cash-for-Clunkers, consumers will find that the playing field between dealers and shoppers is more level than it was six months ago,” said AutoTrader.com President and CEO Chip Perry. “But it still remains a good time to buy a car, both in terms of manufacturer incentives, and the demand for quality used vehicles, which provides consumers negotiation space when trading in a car or truck.”
While Chevrolet Camaro once again topped AutoTrader.com’s most viewed list for August, the bigger success story for General Motors remained the Chevrolet Equinox, which saw views increase almost 290% year over year. This moved the newly-launched Equinox crossover from the 89th most-viewed vehicle in August 2008 and the 18th most-viewed vehicle last month to 7th place this August. More importantly for Chevrolet, the average asking price of the new Equinox increased nearly 6% over the previous version to $27,334.87 – more than $600 more than the average asking price of new Ford Escapes on the site and nearly $2,000 more than that for the Honda CR-V, vehicles which GM has directly targeted with the Equinox.
Kia saw the largest increase in popularity on AutoTrader.com among major automotive brands, with views of new Kia models increasing 176% in August compared to August of 2008. This pushed Kia from the No. 20 most-viewed brand on AutoTrader.com in August of 2008 to the No. 8 most-viewed brand in August 2009. Ford and Hyundai, both winners in August’s sales race, also saw views for their brands rise, almost 29% and 27% year over year, respectively.
Cash-for-Clunkers drove site activity on AutoTrader.com, with August marking the eighth consecutive month that the site saw its unique monthly visitor count top 15 million. In August, AutoTrader.com attracted a total of 15.5 million unique monthly visitors, a 10% increase in traffic compared to August 2008.
Used & CPO Car Activity
Demand for used and CPO light trucks and SUVs continued strong growth in August, with many such vehicles recording double-digit increases in views year-over-year. Ford saw used F-250s up almost 47% in views, while average asking prices rose 7.89% year over year. Similarly, CPO Ford Explorer SUVs rose 45 % in views, and 17% in average asking prices year over year.
Fuel efficient used cars saw some average price declines year over year, but those declines were more a function of the high prices these used cars commanded last year at this time due to high gas prices, not a reduction in these cars’ general popularity. For instance, used Honda Civics and used Volkswagen Jettas saw price declines of 12% and 13%, respectively, when compared to August of 2008, while maintaining their popularity on the site. The Honda Civic was the No. 6 most-viewed used car this month, last month and in August of 2008. The Jetta was the No. 19 most-viewed used car this month, the No. 18 most-viewed used car last month and the No. 18 most-viewed used car in August of 2008.
Both the new and used car shopping activity on AutoTrader.com seems to indicate a return to more normal auto shopping habits and patters. “Over the past year or so, we’ve seen spikes on our top 20 lists in demand for specific types of cars – fuel sippers, then for specific manufacturers and then for less expensive vehicles,” said Perry.
“I believe those spikes were being driven by car shoppers responding to fluctuating gas prices, impending manufacturer bankruptcies and other uncertain or challenging economic news. This month’s lists, where a wide variety of brands and models are represented, may show a return to normal car shopping activity as the economy rights itself and shopping and buying behavior isn’t as strongly impacted by other wildly fluctuating factors.”
AutoTrader.com, created in 1997 and headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., is the Internet’s leading auto classifieds marketplace and consumer information website. AutoTrader.com aggregates in a single location about 3 million new cars, used cars and certified pre-owned cars from thousands of auto dealers and private owners. The site attracts about 15 million unique monthly visitors. Through innovative merchandising functionality such as multiple photos, videos, detailed descriptions and comprehensive research and compare tools, AutoTrader.com unites new and used car buyers and sellers online to improving the way people research, locate and advertise vehicles. AutoTrader.com is a majority-owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises. The venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers is also an investor. For more information, please visit www.autotrader.com.