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What We Know

Car dealers were hit by a cyberattack that shut down CDK Global in June, a leading car dealership software company that services thousands of dealers in the United States. The software blackout made headlines as 15,000 dealers across North America struggled to provide services to customers. While most of the company’s systems have since been restored, it’s estimated that the event led to major losses in vehicle sales for the auto industry.


Take Our Poll: How concerned are you about cybersecurity threats to your local car dealership?


What We’re Seeing

CivicScience gauged how car buyers – and auto manufacturers – were impacted by the CDK Global outage. Here are key insights to know:

  • The impact of the CDK Global system outage was felt far and wide. CivicScience data show that 28% of car shoppers (U.S. adults 18+ in the process of purchasing or shopping for a car) say they were impacted by the outage.1
  • The impact was felt most strongly by Millennial car shoppers (aged 25-44), those living in the U.S. South and Midwest regions, and those in urban areas.
  • Car shoppers affected by the outage were more likely to have been in the market to purchase or lease a new car, compared to those who were shopping used.
  • It’s likely that the outage affected sales for a range of manufacturers. A comparison of six major auto manufacturers (including luxury makers) shows that car shoppers favorable to Lexus were the most likely to say they were impacted. On the other hand, car shoppers favorable to Ford and Land Rover were less impacted.

What We Can Learn

‘Always-on’ polling of consumer behavior taps into how respondents are likely to react in these kinds of scenarios. 

  • Consumers are increasingly likely to say that they will opt to buy a used car if their first choice for a brand new car is unavailable.
  • But among car shoppers impacted by the outage, nearly 30% were likely to have purchased a different model from their first-choice manufacturer. One in five were also willing to wait 2-3 months for their first-choice to become available, potentially buying dealers and manufacturers time to manage losses.
  • The cyberattack raises concerns about cybersecurity and data privacy protection in the United States. Recent data show more American consumers have been directly impacted by a data breach this year (33%), influencing how they shop and engage online.
  • However, CivicScience data show that those impacted by the CDK Global outage are in general less likely to be concerned about their personal data being hacked or stolen from companies they use, compared to car shoppers who were not impacted at the time.

Join the Conversation: Do you think hacking poses a serious threat to the functioning of car dealerships in the US?


What to Take Away

The CDK Global blackout impacted a significant percentage of shoppers. As the effects are beginning to be felt, dealers and manufacturers can get ahead by gaining a deeper understanding of the shoppers who were affected and their distinct consumer behaviors.

Interested in how your brand can drive winning market strategies by leveraging insights like these?

  1. 693 responses from 07/03/2024 to 07/08/2024, rebased among car shoppers
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