- High gasoline prices are driving more buyers to consider traditional sedans and hybrids in the first quarter of 2022, which is likely to benefit Toyota.
- BMW and Mercedes stand out in the luxury report; Tesla is down in retail overweight but still delivering strong Q1 sales.
- Ford, Tesla and Toyota strongest brands among electric vehicle buyers.
ATLANTIA† May 24, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — BMW and Toyota returned to their long-held positions as America’s most shopped for auto brands in their respective segments after being toppled late last year, according to Q1 2022 Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch™ reports.
Toyota recaptured the top spot as the most shopped non-luxury brand, a position it held for four years until Ford’s brief roster as No. 1 in the last quarter of 2021. Similarly, BMW reclaimed its spot as the most shopped luxury brand. brand in the first quarter of 2022, a position it held for three years until late 2021 when Lexus sniffed past and into first place.
Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch is a consumer perception survey that also weaves into shopping behavior to determine how car makes and models stack up against segment competitors when it comes to consumer shopping. Kelley Blue Book produces separate Brand Watch reports for non-luxury and luxury brands each quarter. A special look at electric vehicle shopping is also included. Brand Watch’s most recent work has involved surveying both mobile and desktop users to gain an even broader picture of in-vehicle shopping; the survey previously only included results from desktop users.
“High fuel prices and a few high-profile product launches have really shaken up the order in the Q1 Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch,” said Vanessa Ton, senior research and market intelligence manager at Cox Automotive. “Shopping for traditional sedans, which are often more affordable and efficient than SUVs and trucks, has surged in the first quarter after years of decline. Fuel prices have clearly affected shopping behavior.”
High gas prices affect shopping behaviour
With gas prices setting new records in March and vehicle affordability deteriorating, many first-quarter buyers sought more efficient, more affordable sedans. Of non-luxury shoppers, 37% considered cars in the first quarter, up from 31% in the fourth quarter of 2021 and the highest level in a long time.
In the last quarter of 2021, traditional cars weren’t in the top ten most shopped vehicles, but that changed in the first quarter of this year when three cars – Honda Accord and Civic and Toyota Camry – returned to the list of most shopped cars. Even on the luxury side, fuel economy climbed from No. 10 to No. 7 in the areas most important to shoppers.
High fuel prices have also likely boosted interest in electric vehicles. In the first quarter, one in four buyers considered an electric vehicle, especially EVs and hybrids, a trend that is likely to accelerate as new models hit showrooms. The top 10 best-selling electrified vehicles was evenly split between hybrids and EVs. Ford, Tesla and Toyota dominated the list with three models each. The Honda CR-V Hybrid completed the top 10.
Still, even with high gas prices and rising costs, SUVs remained the main considerations when buying new vehicles. Of all buyers of non-luxury cars, 66% considered an SUV, a level that has been stable for some time, while 35% bought pickup trucks, the same as at the end of 2021. In the first quarter, 5% of car buyers considered minivans, increased of 4% at the end of 2021.
Chevrolet and Dodge Considerations Rise in Q1
Attention for the Silverado soared and for the first time, the Silverado surpassed the Ford F-150 as the top-selling pickup in the quarter Kelley Blue Book questionnaire. The Silverado was buoyed by GM’s January announcement — with a high-profile Super Bowl ad — of an electric model arriving next year, spurring interest in shopping and significant media buzz during the quarter.
Dodge was another winner in the quarter. The brand’s purchase consideration doubled, driven in large part by a notable increase in shopping for the Durango SUV. The Muscle Cars Charger and Challenger also received increased shopping attention in the first quarter.
Among the dozens of factors most important to non-luxury shoppers, another Stellantis brand – Ram – took the highest honors, ranking in 10 of 12 categories, including safety, ride comfort and interior layout. Honda came in second, scoring in 7 out of 12 categories, with the best awards in affordability and fuel efficiency. Toyota came third in 6 of 12 categories, including No. 1 in Durability/Reliability, the single most important factor for new car buyers.
BMW returns as luxury brand leader
On the luxury side, BMW returned to its long-held position as the most-shopped luxury brand in the first quarter, thanks to its popular and iconic 5 Series and 3 Series sedans. Lexus, which had snuck past BMW in the last quarter of 2021, dropped to third place in the first quarter of 2022.
The big surprise was the rise of Cadillac to the number 2 best-selling luxury brand. Luxury brand General Motors posted the largest gain in retail activity thanks to the Escalade SUV, which was the top-selling luxury vehicle for the first time in the quarter.
The other surprise was the drop in shopping for Tesla, which dropped from No. 3 to the fifth most bought luxury brand late last year. Still, even with the shopping and consideration, Tesla managed to record record US sales and gain market share in the quarter.
Mercedes-Benz took the top honors in factors most important to luxury car buyers, ranking #1 in ride comfort, interior layout and prestige/refinement. Mercedes-Benz scored in 7 of the 12 categories and also achieved a place in safety, technology, durability/reliability and exterior styling. Tesla was close behind, scoring in 6 of the 12 categories.
In the last quarter of 2021, Acura overtook Lexus and claimed the top spot in the most important factor for shoppers: durability/reliability. Acura maintained that coveted top spot in Q1 2022, scoring in affordability, reputation, fuel economy and interior layout.
Learn more about Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch
Watch a video of the topline results of the Q1 2022 Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch in the Cox Automotive Newsroom†
About Kelley Blue Book
Kelley Blue Book, founded in 1926, The trusted source, is the vehicle valuation and source of information that consumers and the auto industry rely on. Each week, the company offers market-reflective values on its top-rated website KBB.com, including the famous Blue Book Trade-in values and Kelley Blue Book Price Advisor tool, which provides a range of what consumers can reasonably expect to pay for a vehicle in their area. Car owners looking to sell immediately can also get a redeemable, transaction-ready offer with Kelley Blue BookSM Instant cash offer. The company also provides vehicle prices and values through a variety of products and services available to auto dealers, automakers, financial and insurance companies, and government agencies. Kelley Blue Book is a brand of Cox Automotive.
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SOURCE Kelley Blue Book