The great computer chip shortage certainly isn’t ending anytime soon. Unlike other supply chain strains, which have been exacerbated within the past two months, the microchips required to make new cars have been desperately behind the production schedule for most of this year.
CivicScience studied consumer auto attitudes over the summer, and since then, the major auto companies faced significant losses and the used market continues to be a viciously competitive space. The last time we checked in on the likelihood of consumers buying or leasing a new car in the next 90 days, the data showed a slight uptick over the past two quarters. But in Q3 2021, the number of consumers at least somewhat likely to get a new car doubled year-over-year compared to Q3 2020, when just 10% of Americans were considering a car purchase.
That’s a pretty drastic accumulation of prospective car buyers, and even if a majority of Americans aren’t currently looking for new cars, they’re concerned about the situation. Two-thirds of adults are at least somewhat concerned about the chip shortages, and 25% are very concerned — the latter of which aligns closely with purchasing likelihood.
Truck shoppers are the most likely to rate as “very concerned” about the ongoing chip shortage, but prospective sedan buyers have the highest overall level of concern. For much of the year, automakers like GM were able to prioritize pickup trucks and SUVs for new car manufacturing, but the chip shortage caught up in Q3, forcing most companies to slow production on all new models.
Prospective truck owners are also the most likely to have been impacted personally by chip shortages at new and used dealerships. While trucks outpace all other types of vehicle in chip impact and intent to buy, the chip shortage becoming more widespread will likely equalize these numbers across car types in the future.
Compared to the August study, Americans are currently less flexible with their car-buying budget. Instead of exploring a wider price range, as you might expect when an in-demand product is hard to come by, Americans are perhaps less willing to shell out above-market value for worse than their desired vehicle. Chalk it up to the worsening shortage, the looming holiday season, the fragile economic recovery, the frenetic used car market, or any combination of those factors.
Although the supply chain crisis could theoretically resolve itself in the coming months, automakers are bracing for an equally bumpy 2022. Car buyers in a pinch may not have the luxury of choice when it comes to make and model for the foreseeable future.