• 71% would limit the number of dealerships they visit right now due to health/safety concerns
  • 27% think fewer people will do in-person test drives


DETROIT, July 9, 2020—Urban Science and The Harris Poll released data and insights today from a June 2020 study of 1,505 consumers indicating that 61% of consumers agree that the entire vehicle purchase process will change forever due to COVID-19.

More than three-quarters (78%) see some benefit to shopping for a new vehicle entirely online versus in-person, with about a third or more citing less pressure from salespeople (38%) and the convenience (37%) or safety (32%) of not having to leave the home as top reasons. Though they see the benefits, even more (93%) express some concern with an entirely online new vehicle purchase process.

“It’s important to note that one-third of consumers (36%) agree that there is no reason to ever visit a car dealership again,” said Simon Bradley, Global Practice Director, Network at Urban Science. “While this sentiment could change as we return back to normal, this potentially indicates alternative retail formats may play a role in changing consumer sentiment.  The provision of safe, trusted locations to interact with vehicles of interest and the opportunity to have questions answered from a neutral brand representative could help motivate consumers.”

Further, 71% agree that they would limit the number of dealerships they visited if they were purchasing a new vehicle right now due to health and safety concerns. Long-term, a quarter of adults think fewer people will do in-person test drives before buying/leasing (27%) and that more people will be willing to use virtual or augmented reality to experience a vehicle (25%) with nearly one-third (31%) believing sales departments will do more mobile visits to customers’ homes.

“It’s very clear that trust will be earned in new ways, and that a number of the adaptations the public has made during the pandemic are here to stay,” said Wendy Salomon, Managing Director, Corporate Strategy at The Harris Poll. “In automotive and elsewhere, companies must seek new, unique sources of value that build on the recalibrations we’re seeing.”

Finally, even once the pandemic subsides, over half say having dealership sanitation measures in place, both within each vehicle (55%) and throughout the building (54%), are must haves to help customers feel safe when visiting the dealership.

This is survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll in partnership with Urban Science from June 2-9, 2020 among 1,505 adults age 18+. Results are weighted to be representative of this population. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

About The Harris Poll
The Harris Poll is one of the longest-running surveys in the U.S., tracking public opinion, motivations and social sentiment since 1963. It is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm that strives to reveal the authentic values of modern society to inspire leaders to create a better tomorrow. We work with clients in three primary areas: building 21st Century corporate reputation, crafting brand strategy and performance tracking, and earning organic media through public relations research. Our mission is to provide insights and advisory to help leaders make the best decisions possible.

About Urban Science
Founded in 1977, Urban Science is a global automotive consulting firm that takes a scientific approach to help automotive manufacturers and their dealers identify where they should allocate resources in order to increase their market share and profitability in the most effective and efficient manner. With headquarters in Detroit, Urban Science serves its global clientele from offices in the United States, Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Mexico, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

Visit www.urbanscience.com for more information.