It turns out Henry Ford was on to something. In 2020, 91% of Americans currently own or lease one of those new-fangled horseless carriages.

Automobile ownership in America is truly staggering, with nearly a quarter of the population owning (or leasing) at least three cars.

And despite hiccups in the job market caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Americans are increasingly saying now isn’t the worst time to plop down some cash on a major purchase, as the timeview chart below demonstrates. 

But will that major purchase be a new car? The current trendline indicates it’s possible. Month to date numbers for September indicate a rise in new car purchases on the horizon.

New Cars

So who, exactly, is in the market for a new set of wheels? Men, for starters, are 3 percentage points higher than women to buy a new car in the next 3 months. City and suburban residents are also more likely than rural to be looking for a new car right now, with the city folk the least surprising, considering all things pandemic.

One area of interest: People who aren’t working or have reduced hours or pay are the most likely to buy a new car in the next three months.

Another coronavirus nugget: Americans who think the pandemic will be in the rearview mirror within six months are much more likely to be buying or leasing a new car in the next 90 days.

Used Cars

Meanwhile, over in used car land, numbers are more or less steady across the board when compared to potential new car buyers. Ten percent of Americans say they might be interested in purchasing a used car over the next 90 days, same as potential new car buyers.

And while there’s not much difference in where someone lives when considering whether to buy used, what gender someone is trends about the same as compared to the new car category.

Another similarity? The same people who have gone from office settings to their home office report they are not interested in purchasing a used car, either.

One last similarity between new and used car buyers? How strongly someone feels the pandemic will be behind us. The quicker someone thinks it will be over, the more likely they are to be interested in buying a used car.

Overall, Americans are pretty split when it comes to what their next car purchase is going to look like. Four in 10 Americans say they plan on buying or leasing a new car, while a shade under that  says they’re going to buy used. The rubber meets the road in the 20% of Americans who aren’t sure which direction they’ll be headed. 

Check in later this week for an in-depth look at online car dealers and the trends we’ve observed.