SAN FRANCISCO – A new study by DriverSide.com and Kelton Research shows that more than four out of every five U.S. car owners now plan to keep their current car longer, due to the bad economic climate. According to the survey of U.S. vehicle owners aged 18 and over, 82 percent reported they now intend to keep their car longer than originally planned. The data confirms the end to the cycle of frequent new car buying, as the U.S. consumer now faces the reality the car they currently drive will be theirs longer.
New car sales in 2008, originally predicted to be over 16 million units, plunged to 13.2 million, according to a January report by CSM Worldwide. The analyst firm also predicts 2009 new car sales will come in at only 11.5 million units, a 27-year low. While the new car sales turmoil is widely known, DriverSide.com and Kelton say their study is the first to quantify the consumer sentiment towards extending the life of their current vehicles.
"In a downturn economy, consumers focus automobile-related efforts on maintaining vehicles, minimizing operational expenses and preserving the vehicle's overall value," says Thilo Koslowski, vice president and automotive practice leader at Gartner, Inc. "This creates an opportunity for automotive aftermarket companies and service providers targeting consumers' vehicle ownership needs."
DriverSide offers free online garages where consumers store information about their vehicles in order to receive tools and intelligence on how to maintain them better, and offers an exact estimate on what repairs should cost, a directory of 230,000 mechanics with ratings and reviews, service schedules and recall information for virtually every make and model, depreciation predictions, advice on parts and accessories and even the opportunity to ask certified mechanics questions about any problem.
“If people keep their autos longer, there is business to be had,” said Jad Dunning, co-founder and CEO of DriverSide. “The industry needs to shift from thinking about servicing the car buyer to servicing the car owner. DriverSide is working with the entire industry, including dealers and aftermarket players to help them attract and retain car owners to increase profit and to help their consumers.”
One partner, Precision Tune Auto Care has been staying in touch with customers through their partnership with DriverSide.
"Not only have our customers increased their service visits to our stores because of DriverSide, but we have been able to help them lower their cost of ownership and increase the residual value of their vehicle through the partnership with DriverSide," says Kevin Bates, vice president of marketing at Precision Tune Auto Care.
For complete results of the DriverSide.com/Kelton study, see www.driverside.com.