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

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.

For the past year, CDK Global has been surveying car buyers each month to gauge how easy the car buying process is. And while the average overall Ease of Purchase score remained steady, averaging 83% for the year, there were a few warning signs for dealers that the first annual tally uncovered.

After the tumultuous past few years of tight supply and ongoing demand, a common assumption was that more inventory would be a boon when it finally arrived at dealers. But in our latest survey of car buyers, it was clear that having more options on the lot didn’t help, and in fact, our Ease of Purchase score saw its largest month-to-month drop to date.

Only 79% of buyers in July found the purchase process easy, the lowest score since our survey started in July 2022.

As the volume of car sales traditionally dips during summer, buyers seemed rather content with their purchase process in June. The CDK Global monthly survey of car buyers found that 84% said the overall process was indeed easy, the same as last month and the highest we’ve recorded.

Inventories are rising and the lots almost look back to normal at many dealerships. These conditions helped lift the CDK Global Ease of Purchase score to 84% in May, one of our highest recorded. But just as the industry is overcoming one issue, another is lurking behind it. High interest rates have been an issue for months, especially for shoppers who want affordable options.