Toyota RAV4 Prime 2023 BlueToyota dealers are low on cars. However, more American auto shoppers consider Toyota more than any other brand. 35% of American auto shoppers looked closely at buying a Toyota product in the last quarter, even though Toyota dealers have always been among the lowest inventory of any auto brand.

Low inventory leads to higher prices. In fact, Toyota has begun to openly discuss raising the prices of its products.

The numbers come from Kelley Blue Book’s Third Quarter Brand Watch survey – a consumer survey that also weaves into shopping behavior to determine how a brand or model stacks with its industry competitors on ten key factors of a consumer’s buying decision.

Kelley Blue Book releases separate reports covering luxury car shoppers and those shopping for hybrids and electric cars. We expect to publish these numbers soon.

Toyota’s Lead Continues To Grow Even When Inventory Is Low

Toyota has ranked number one for most of the past five years. So her win is not surprising in some ways.

The Japanese automaker extended its lead in the third quarter. It is now ahead of Ford at number two with 5%. Chevrolet trailed Ford with 29%. Honda was the only other automaker to close with 24%, followed by a handful of brands in the 9% to 15% range.

Toyota offers a surprise as the world’s largest automaker has been hit hard by persistent microchip shortages, COVID-19-related factory closures in Asia, and other supply chain challenges. Toyota dealers finished October with an average of 10 days of bringing vehicles for sale, compared to 28 days for Ford, which took second place, and 26 days for General Motors.

Prior to 2020, it was common for automakers to attempt to maintain at least six weeks of vehicle inventory.

The number may also represent missed opportunities for many buyers. Supply crunch is not evenly distributed. Automakers with limited supplies are still selling cars close to the label price, while some with more cars for sale are back at bigger discounts.

Top 10 Most Valuable Brands

Rank Brand Percentage of shoppers who thought of it
1 Toyota 35%
2 stronghold 30%
3 Chevrolet 29%
4 Honda 24%
5 Hyundai 15th%
6 Kia 13%
7 April 13%
8 GMC 12%
9 pocket 12%
10 Subaru 12%

High gas prices still drive some decisions

Higher gas prices are prompting more shoppers to consider hybrids, electric cars, and even older sedans in 2022.

The RAV4 Hybrid’s quarterly growth rate is up 21%, due at least in part to higher gas prices. It is always the most shopped electric car and returned to the top ten most shopped of all non-luxury cars in the quarter after falling back at the end of last year. In addition, the regular Camry, RAV4 and Tacoma were ranked in the top ten.

Car buying thinking has now rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. SUVs and trucks are still dominant, but shoppers are taking a fresh look at sedans and coupes. Of all non-luxury shoppers, 40% considered a car. A year ago, less than a third considered a car.

However, SUVs remained the most popular car models. Of all passive shoppers, two-thirds of shoppers consider SUVs, a level that has held steady for some time. High gas prices are driving shoppers to search for smaller, more fuel-efficient SUVs that are dominated by Honda and Toyota. The Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, and RAV4 Hybrid were the most popular SUVs shopping in that order.

Top 10 most thought-provoking models:

Affordability, fuel efficiency is becoming increasingly important

The survey also asks shoppers to rank the factors that lead them to make a decision. Normally, we see a very slight shift from a quarter to a quarter.

Reliability has retained first place but has fallen a bit in importance – probably because the reliability of most cars has improved in recent years, so the risks of buying an unreliable car are fairly low.

Affordability has grown in importance as car prices rise and recession threats grow in the third quarter. Fuel efficiency rose in importance, missing the top five.

The most important considerations for new car shoppers

Rank consideration
1 Durability / Reliability
2 safety
3 Affordability
4 Driving comfort
5 driving performance

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