When researchers look into what American car buyers are considering month-to-month in today’s car market, what they often find is quick changes. We’ve already reported on some accounts of trends in this year’s market related to gas prices. Early in the year, with gas prices still higher, car buyers were focusing on smaller fuel-efficient cars. A new report from Autotrader shows that lower gas prices have resulted in a lot of attention toward large work trucks and other gas-hungry vehicles all the way through the end of the summer. Autotrader calls 2011 a “roller coaster year” citing vastly different consumer behavior through each buying season.
One litmus test of consumer behavior is attention toward the 2011 Ford Focus. When Autotrader tracked attention to this car, which Ford is developing in hybrid and all-electric versions, what they found is that the Focus was high on spring’s lists but disappeared over the summer. Autotrader offers a list of 20 most searched-for new and used vehicles each month, as well as another list of top 20 most searched-for certified pre-owned vehicles or CPO offers. What Autotrader found in August is that the Ford focus didn’t appear at all.
What did appear on all three lists were the three brands of heavy domestic work trucks, starting with the Ford F-150, and also including the Chevrolet Silverado and Dodge Ram trucks. Even larger offerings like Ford F-250 F-350 models also showed up as some of the most popular new vehicles in August. Although small car models like the Chevrolet Cruze also made the list, the overall roster shows that consumers did a lot more research on work trucks and larger vehicles as the summer came to an end. We’ll see if this trend persists into fall, with auto makers hawking even more fuel-efficient varieties of their sedan, small car and subcompact lines. For consumers, Autotrader reports can help show which models may be most desirable and subsequently priced up at local lots as they prepare to make their own personal selections.