Canadian Car Shoppers Looking to Upsize for Their Next Vehicle Purchase
AutoTrader.ca continually monitors for trends on its various platforms, which spans hundreds of thousands of vehicle listings and millions of users, and in recent years it has become clear that there has been a seismic shift away from traditional sedans in favour of larger crossovers, SUVs and trucks.
Part of the explanation for this may be that North American vehicle manufacturers have been enthusiastically pushing larger, more expensive vehicles through their consumer advertising and marketing efforts. However, this may well be in response to consumer demand, as larger SUV and pickup truck sales have been gaining pace across North America for the past five years, and there is no sign of things slowing down.
Some believe that with more vehicles on the road than ever, drivers feel safer driving an SUV or truck rather than a car. Others assert that with growing families and activities ramping up, it’s all about practicality and versatility. While a third group contends that driving a larger vehicle is all about status. Regardless of the reasons, the shift away from smaller vehicles is clearly the result of an evolution in consumer taste preferences.
According to a recent AutoTrader.ca online study that polled Canadians car shoppers who said they intended to buy a vehicle within the next two years, almost one-third (30%) of current vehicle owners said they are seeking to upsize to a larger vehicle from their current car. Among those who plan to upsize from their current vehicle, nearly half (48%) intend to upsize to a SUV, while another 32% say they’ll pivot to a truck. Among those who plan to upsize, more cargo space, better seating comfort, and more seats are the top reasons for going big.
Fortunately, the level of style, performance, fuel efficiency and selection of today’s SUVs and light trucks has never been better. Consumers are now spoiled with choice across the full price spectrum, from economy to ultra-luxury models.
Yet, this cornucopia of choice poses a challenge to dealerships who may be trying to determine what the best mix of inventory is to have on the lot, and where the bulk of their marketing efforts should go as they seek to incentivize prospective customers to purchase larger vehicles.
According to the study, SUVs have the highest overall purchase consideration (42%) among all respondents, with 64% of current SUV owners indicating they still plan to buy an SUV for their next vehicle, while 33% of car owners say they intend to switch to an SUV.
Among those who anticipate purchasing an SUV as their next vehicle, 62% say they will buy a two-row SUV and 26% say they will buy a three-row SUV. Only 12% intend to buy a subcompact SUV.
Trucks & SUVs, Please
Perhaps not surprisingly, over 90% of purchase intenders that responded to the AutoTrader survey stated that vehicle body type is an important consideration in their overall purchase decision, with 42% saying it is ‘very important’ and 50% stating that it is ‘important.’ Overall, 37% of buyers say they have made up their mind about what body type they want for their next vehicle and are not willing to waver. Conversely, about half (49%) say they have a good idea of what vehicle type they want, but are open to change. Truck owners, meanwhile, are more likely to have made up their mind (46%), while first-time buyers are more likely to be open to change (61%).
Vehicle size is also an important consideration for the vast majority (85%) of prospective buyers. Interestingly, half of buyers (51%) have decided on the vehicle size they want to buy, but say they are open to changing their minds. One third of buyers claim they have made up their mind and will not change their decision.
Pain Points vs. Gain Points
As the winter months approach, taking a data-led view to developing strong, upsize-focused marketing messaging and associated offers can be very effective. To assist in these efforts, below are a few key findings related to consumer perception of both large and small vehicles taken from the AutoTrader.ca study:
- Price is a major deterrent for respondents with 50% perceiving larger vehicles to be more expensive with less fuel efficiency (48%) than smaller cars. Larger cars are also perceived to be better suited for families (45%) with the extra space not being worth the added difficulty when it comes to maneuvering tight spaces (27%). Unsurprisingly, larger cars are also seen as less environmentally friendly to consumers (28%).
- On the plus side, 41% of respondents feel safer in a larger vehicle. Larger vehicles are also perceived to be more convenient (35%) and offer a better resale value (15%).
For a wealth of consumer insights and our latest research studies, visit go.trader.ca/newsroom.