David Thomas

David Thomas is director of content marketing and automotive industry analyst at CDK Global. He champions thought leadership across all platforms, connecting CDK’s vast expertise to the broader market and trends driving our industry forward. David has spent nearly 20 years in the automotive world as a product evaluator, journalist and marketer for brands like Autoblog, Cars.com, Nissan and Harley-Davidson.

David Thomas
Director, Content

May was the second month in a row where 87% of car buyers CDK’s Research Team surveyed said buying their new car was easy. This plateau of pleasantness comes despite the need to visit more dealerships to find the car they wanted notwithstanding inventory levels that are relatively high. Yet, even though the number of shoppers having to visit two or more stores rose to 70% in May from 64% in April, four out of five (79%) said finding the car they wanted was easy.

CDK recently released the Dealers Face the EV Transition white paper, which details the pessimism many dealers feel about the electric future. A clear majority (65%) indeed admit to being pessimistic about EVs, and the paper delves into many of the reasons behind that number including the impact to the dealership’s revenue, consumer interest and more.

Car buyers still found it overwhelmingly easy to buy a new car in April but there was a slight drop in the ability to find what they were looking for on dealer lots. The overall Ease of Purchase score — determined from a monthly CDK survey — actually ticked up to 87% in April from 86% in March, just off February’s record high of 88%.

In February, the tracking CDK does of new car buyers returned its most positive results to date with nearly nine out of 10 (88%) respondents saying the purchase process was easy. Having moved the bar so high it’s no surprise that in March there was a dip to a still very high score of 86% for the Ease of Purchase scorecard.

Despite hurdles when it comes to affordability, more car buyers said it was easy to complete their purchase in February than at any time since CDK started tracking that question in July 2022. All told, 88% of buyers said it was easy to buy their car in February, up from 84% in January and 85% in February 2023.

Although 2024 is shaping up to be a buyer’s market, new and used vehicles continue to be painfully expensive for many. That’s why the trend of Americans keeping their cars longer than ever seems poised to continue. It’s typically more cost-effective to fix an older vehicle than spring for a purchase, which should be a driver to service providers. So, where and why are these drivers turning for service and maintenance?

Car buyers raced against the clock to secure deals before the end of the year while inventories and incentives were at some of their highest points of not only 2023 but since supply chains put a halt on regular production. These factors led to respondents of the CDK Global Ease of Purchase survey to overwhelmingly rate their car buying experience as easy.

Last month, higher inventories led to more people finding the car they wanted in stock and, at the same time, more car buyers in our Ease of Purchase survey said it was, in fact, easy to buy a car. In November, we saw a quick reversal.

Consumer credit continues to tighten. The workforce unrest for the Detroit automakers is just now settling. And for many, the model year is turning over. Yet, none of these factors dented how smoothly car sales transacted in October. The CDK Global monthly Ease of Purchase score ticked to near its highest level, 85%, up from 83% in September as more buyers found the car they wanted in stock.

Electric vehicles (EVs) are here and more are coming to get the world to a zero-emission future. But the slow rollout of new models in the U.S., still-nascent charging infrastructure and high cost of entry are all barriers to overcome. In the CDK Global EV Confusion Carries On Study, we found that a variety of shoppers are still confused about the benefits and trade-offs of EVs.

Factors holding shoppers back from EVs were questions about overall cost, range and charging times.