Q1 KBB Brand Watch Report results with Senior Research Manager Vanessa Ton

Recently, Cox Automotive published the Q1 Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch Report, covering the non-luxury, luxury, and electrified segments. Joining anchor Jim Fitzpatrick on today’s edition of Inside Automotive is Vanessa Ton, Senior Research Manager at Cox Automotive, who discusses the study and some of its key findings. 

The Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch is an ongoing study every quarter that acts as a barometer to gauge which brands are doing well and what consumers want when shopping for new vehicles. KKB.com visitors that qualify for the study are asked a series of questions, and often, the predictive results coincide with sales volume. However, just because a consumer shopped a vehicle online doesn’t mean they ended up buying it. 

There are many interesting findings in the non-luxury report. Back in March, when gas prices started to spike nationwide, and inventory shortages kept car prices high, affordability became a challenge. 30% of vehicle shoppers are considering sedans, the highest percentage seen in two years.

In the Top 10 most-shopped vehicles for the quarter, the Ford F-150 is no longer the most-shopped, which is a big surprise considering its popularity. Chevrolet is challenging the F-150’s status with the Silverado 1500 and heavy-duty variant. Chevy Tahoe consideration has jumped, suggesting that consumers are gearing up for events like Summer vacation. 

In Q4 of last year, Ford was the most-shopped non-luxury brand in America. However, Ton explains that Toyota has taken back the top spot in Q1 2022, and consideration for the brand jumped two percentage points. 34% of in-market shoppers are looking at Toyota, followed by Ford at 32%, and Chevy at 30%. Notably, Chevy beat out Honda for the third spot. 

Another section of the study looks at the 12 factors shoppers find most important. Durability and reliability top the list again, followed by safety and affordability, which isn’t surprising. In terms of these factors, Ram is the brand to watch, Ton explains.

On the luxury side, BMW took the crown with 21% of consumer consideration, up one percentage point, driven by 3 Series and 5 Series vehicles. Cadillac surged to number two, going from 13% in Q4 to 18% in Q1. Lexus takes third, followed by Mercedes-Benz, and Tesla comes in fifth. 

Across both the non-luxury and luxury reports, there’s a similar increased interest in cars. 51% of luxury brand shoppers are looking at vehicles, up from 49% last quarter. Coming in first place on the Top 10 most-shopped luxury vehicles for the quarter is the Cadillac Escalade. It’s an aspirational vehicle, says Ton. So, the result is not that surprising. BMW has three models in the top 10 list, and even though Tesla dropped in brand consideration, the Model 3 and Model Y are still held in high regard. 

When looking at the 12 factors shoppers find most important in luxury vehicles; fuel efficiency jumped from number ten to number seven. So, even affluent shoppers are feeling the burden of higher gas prices.

The Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch also tracks consideration for electric cars. There’s an even split between hybrids and fully-electric vehicles, says Ton. The standout brands for electric vehicles include Tesla, Toyota, and Ford.

You can see the full 2022 Q1 Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch Report at CoxAutoInc.com/Newsroom.

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