Newsroom Articles

Although the economy remains slightly unsettled, with the highest interest rates in over two decades only now making a slight dip, and gas prices still on the high end, consumer research shows that Canadians are still steady in their vehicle purchase intentions through the second quarter of 2024. In our latest study by DIG Insights, we unpack the slight variabilities in car shopper behaviour and identify ways for your dealership to ensure you are poised to connect, engage and provide shoppers with the tools and service they need to successfully navigate their car shopping journey.  


While car purchase intent has maintained its course, with about one-quarter of Canadians planning to buy a vehicle in the next six months, our latest consumer research revealed that confidence in personal finances made a notable improvement, with 53% of vehicle intenders anticipating to see their household financial situation improve either “a little” or “a lot” in the next six months. That’s up from 43% in the previous study. With these strong indicators of purchase intention and financial confidence, dealers who understand how and where consumers shop, and who then tailor their online experience to those preferences, will have an advantage.  

Also unchanged is the percentage of respondents who have previously planned to buy a vehicle but then determined to delay their purchase. The primary reason for delay is the belief that their current vehicle is still in good running condition (52%). Second is high vehicle prices at 31%; and tied for third is affordability, and re-prioritization of spending due to inflation or the increase in cost of living, both at 25%. Most notably, there was a slight drop in people who said high interest rates prevented them from purchasing at 18%, down from 22% earlier this year.   

What about those who don’t want to wait? The study found that 47% of vehicle intenders feel “now” is a good time to make a major purchase, including a vehicle, and while only 31% feel the current economic situation “good” or “very good” overall, when it comes to confidence in their current personal financial situation, 59% state it was “good” or “very good.”  


Online resources remain the number-one source of vehicle information, and by a vast margin over in-person dealership visits or asking family or friends. One of the top sources that consumers look to are online automotive marketplaces (38%), such as Those looking for new vehicles use an average of 3.6 sources, while used vehicle intenders – 52% of whom turn to an online automotive marketplace – tap into 3.8 sources, on average. Putting vehicles in front of these car shoppers, where they are online is a key formula to success. 

What they’re looking for online is also important to help you tailor the process and provide the experience they want. A whopping 86% of shoppers are interested in completing certain aspects of their purchase process online, and 64% want to buy a vehicle fully online. That’s remained rather stable from the previous study


The current research showed the tasks that most shoppers want to do online are to research and compare vehicles (92%), and to inquire about a vehicle that interests them (92%). Unsurprisingly, those two undertakings haven’t changed positions for several studies. The keys to reaching these shoppers include a wide variety of vehicles on your lot, keywords that prioritize vehicles presented to them by model, segment, brand, or price, depending on what the shopper has indicated, complete information that’s easy to find, including vehicle comparisons, and finally,  promptly responding to their inquiries, and with information about the vehicle that’s already been shortlisted by the shopper. If you’re looking to improve your merchandising, or understand if it’s up to par, check out this guide to effective online vehicle merchandising

Other aspects that shoppers are interested to conduct online include arranging for vehicle delivery (84%), obtaining a valuation for a trade-in (83%), scheduling an at home test drive (82%), and to pre-qualify for financing (81%). Services like AutoTrader’s Instant Cash Offer (ICO) and Deal Builder enable dealerships to deliver on these preferences, moving shoppers further down the funnel, several steps closer to purchase. 

How customers want to pay for their purchases remains unchanged over past studies. Overall, 49% of vehicle intenders plan to finance, with 38% of those looking at dealership financing; 43% from a financial institution; and the remainder intend to leverage a line of credit. Some 35% want to pay cash, while 16% prefer to lease, up from 14% in the first quarter of 2024. Financing is highest among new vehicle shoppers at 57%, while those looking for used vehicles are split almost equally between 43% who want to finance and 44% who prefer to pay cash. Leasing between the two isn’t all that far apart either, with 17% of new vehicle intenders and 14% of used vehicle shoppers demonstrating a preference for this option.

Consumers are confident, the Bank of Canada recently lowered its interest rates, and many Canadians are poised to make major purchases. Strategically tapping into the tools that put the right vehicles and their information in front of your prospects, and let you reach out promptly when they’re interested, while delivering on their shopping preferences, are the keys to turning vehicle shoppers into vehicle buyers. 

Key Takeaways

  • Consumer confidence in their personal finances outlook is the highest it’s been since May 2023
  • Online remains the top source amongst car shoppers for sourcing vehicle information, with online automotive marketplaces remaining the primary source for used vehicle intenders
  • Almost half of consumers intend to finance their vehicles, including dealer financing
  • A majority of shoppers want to complete some aspects of the vehicle purchase process online

Sources: DIG Insights Car Shopper Perceptions & Intentions Research Study, May 2024, (n=325).

Infographic: Car Shopper Perceptions & Intentions

Download a copy of our latest Car Shopper Perceptions & Intentions infographic below.