The percentage of Americans planning to wait more than four years before buying a new car has grown 28.1 percent since 2005, a new study shows. That may slow the recovery of sales rates stuck at 27-year lows.
Nearly 59 percent of recent new-vehicle buyers in an annual survey conducted by automotive research firm AutoPacific said they planned to buy their next new car in more than four years. Thats up from 46 percent of respondents in 2005 and 44.8 percent last year.
That means the light-vehicle market may recover more slowly than the industry hopes, AutoPacific President George Peterson said.
With the economy the way it is, the emotion and sex appeal of buying a new car isnt there, he said. Cars are pretty good these days, and youre not forced to go back into the market and buy a new car every three or four years.
AutoPacific conducted the survey in April, when the U.S. light-vehicle sales rate hit 9.5 million units, down from14.7 million a year earlier. The 32,000 respondents had all purchased 2009-model-year light vehicles some time between September and December.
The U.S. recession is now in its 20th month. In June, the consumer confidence index measured by the Conference Board hit 49.3, up from 40.8 in April and nearly at June 2008s 51 level. As a reference, the market information group says the level of consumer confidence in 1985 was 100.
The board group said in June that 2.3 percent of its respondents planned to buy a new vehicle in six months, slightly up from 2.2 percent in both April and June 2008. Thats higher than the 1.5 percent of AutoPacific respondents who said they would buy a new vehicle in six months to one year.
The Conference Boards new-vehicle purchase plan measure hit a low in November, with 1.4 percent saying they planned to buy a new car in six months. Thats less than half the average 3.8 percent that have answered that way in the studys 42-year history.
Overall consumer confidence hit a record low at 25.3 in February.