Cars.com Unveils 5 Leading Trends Influencing Online Auto Sales in 2021

By McKenzie Carpenter Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A growing sector of the automotive industry is the introduction and integration of electric vehicles (EV) and other virtual resources into the lives of average citizens. The implementation of technology streamlines the process of buying and selling vehicles. Cars.com is no stranger to the advancements in technology and EV, as they have adapted to this pandemic-affected world. As a result, the company is able to identify the top influences that are changing businesses within the auto industry.

Person shopping for cars on their smartphone.

In the Driver’s Seat

Cars.com is a digital marketplace that connects car buyers with sellers. The company consolidates data, resources, and digital tools to make car buying and selling easier and make the process clearer for consumers to make informed purchasing decisions. In 2018, the business acquired Dealer Inspire, a tech company that builds solutions for dealerships to establish efficient operations, a streamlined process, and the use of digital services for buying and selling vehicles.

The company is currently worth an estimated $838.28 million. States like Illinois, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, and Wisconsin are the top five most active states when it comes to using the company’s site for auto services. It comes as no surprise that Cars.com has amassed such a huge net worth as the business has over 45 million monthly visitors to its site.

While Cars.com is one of the many industry leaders in the automotive digital marketplace, other automotive digital marketplaces with significant market share are CarGurus, TrueCar, Autotrader, and Carvana, among many others.

About the Space

In a press release from Grand View Research Inc., the global used car market size is expected to reach $2.1 billion by 2027. It also states that EV and hybrid cars are starting to make their way into the used car market. It comes as no surprise with the ever-changing landscape of technology and information that more and more people are turning to online resources to buy and sell vehicles.

“In the new virtual-first environment, digital platforms have significantly increased in importance for small businesses across the country, dealerships included, as the need persists to virtually connect with at-home shoppers,” Alex Vetter, Cars.com Inc. CEO, stated in a press release. He adds, “The new year will bring fast and persistent adaptation in our industry as consumers continue to rely on cars as an extension of their homes, and look for frictionless digital experiences from their local dealerships. America's car dealers are well positioned to meet these expectations head-on as technology takes center stage, and we welcome this new era of digital car buying and selling.”

Cars.com Top 5 Predicted Trends for 2021

With the COVID-19 pandemic still in full force, many people are still sheltering in place and only leaving their homes for essential activities. Consequently, many people have been forced into using online mediums that they may not have used before. Buying or selling a car is a perfect example of an activity that once required all in-person interactions.

In a press release from Cars.com, the company details the top five business trend predictions for the automotive industry this coming year. The trend starts off with a new wave of car buyers because the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that cars are the safest transportation method currently as people are able to social distance and not be exposed to many people on mass transit. This in turn leads to higher rates of car-buying and selling.
Both the second and third trends for this year are predicted as the buyers’ personal driveways are replacing dealership lots and virtual sales are streamlining the buying process. According to the press release, 57% of car purchases performed the majority of their vehicle purchases online with the ease of home delivery, a service that Cars.com offers.

The last two predicted trends are more client affordability and advancements in EV with federal support and evolved technology. Affordability continues to be a top priority for car buyers, with 45% of Cars.com users buying cars more than $30,000 and another 40% less than $10,000. Electric vehicles are expected to make a big splash in the auto industry this year as the incoming administration supports the use of EV.

Final Conclusions

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing many Americans to stay home, many normal duties are now also taking place online: work, school, appointments, and even car-buying and selling. Cars.com has adapted to these new societal changes and continues to evolve its infrastructure. Despite an increase in electric vehicles on the market, they still only account for less than 1% of total website searches for the company. Given all these factors, the company seems to be adjusting well to the current state of the world and is constantly looking for ways to improve its business and make the experience better for its many users.

About the Author


Headshot for author McKenzie Carpenter

McKenzie Carpenter is a graduate of Central Michigan University with a B.A.A. in Integrative Public Relations and French. McKenzie has previously worked for small businesses and nonprofit organizations.

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