The 10 Vehicles Autobytel Shoppers Requested Most in Q1 2006.
Melanie Webber – Autobytel Inc. Media Relations – May 4, 2006
- From January to March, Purchase Requests surge for Toyota Yaris (+259%), Scion tC (+75%), Hyundai Accent (+43%), Chevy Cobalt (+28%) and Aveo (+23%)
- Combined requests for Ford Escape Hybrid, Honda Insight, Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Prius climb 32%
Autobytel Inc. (Nasdaq: ABTL) today released its first Consumer Choice report for 2006, revealing the buying decisions made on the company’s network of automotive web sites from January through March, while also shedding light on online car-buying trends (a critical consideration given the Internet’s dominant impact on make/model decisions). Autobytel attracts millions of unique monthly shoppers through its network of vehicle research and car buying sites, generating approximately $200 million in car sales for dealers every week. Autobytel shoppers submit Purchase Requests to indicate that they want to buy specific vehicles and receive price quotes from local dealers.
The 10 Vehicles Autobytel Shoppers Requested Most in Q1 2006
1. Honda Civic
2. Honda Accord
3. Toyota Camry
4. Honda Odyssey
5. 2006 Toyota RAV4
6. Ford F-150
7. Toyota Corolla
8. Toyota Sienna
9. Mini Cooper
10. 2006 Kia Sportage
Trends and Analysis: Requests for Small Cars, Hybrids Rise with Gas Prices
As fuel prices rose from February to March, Purchase Requests surged for a range of small, high-mileage cars, including the Toyota Echo/Yaris (+259% in March vs. January), Scion tC (+75%), Hyundai Accent (+43%), Chevrolet Cobalt (+28%) and Aveo (+23%), VW New Beetle (+21%) and Toyota Corolla (+20%). Similarly, even though requests for hybrid vehicles slipped year over year for the quarter, they followed fuel prices upward over the course of Q1 – with combined requests for the Ford Escape Hybrid, Honda Insight, Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Toyota Prius up 32% from January to March.
“Generally speaking, our Q1 shoppers selected a broader range of vehicles – with vehicles as diverse as the Chevy Impala, Ford F-150, Kia Sorento and Toyota RAV4 all posting major gains – but March proved that they’re still extremely sensitive to fuel prices,” said Autobytel.com Managing Editor Brian Chee. “It’ll be interesting to see how current and rising prices over the summer impact car buying decisions.”
Big is Bad
Autobytel’s shoppers generally rejected large trucks and SUVs throughout the quarter – before and after gas prices began to climb in March. Year-over-year Q1 requests fell 68% for the Nissan Titan, 52% for the Toyota Sequoia, 26% for the Cadillac Escalade, 24% for the Dodge Ram, and 19% for the Ford Expedition. The Ford F-150 managed to buck the trend, generating a 31% increase in Purchase Requests versus last year.
Newcomers Steal the Show
Autobytel shoppers proved extremely receptive to a range of new and redesigned vehicles during the first quarter, with Purchase Requests for the (relatively) new redesigned Honda Civic up 47% versus Q1 2005 – easily making the Civic the most requested vehicle overall on Autobytel sites for the quarter. The all-new RAV4, meanwhile, generated a 125% increase in Purchase Requests compared to a year ago – with a 26% spike from February to March alone. The Toyota Yaris’ introduction took off with fuel prices in March, with requests for the Yaris up 259% compared to January requests for its model predecessor, the Echo. (Given that the Yaris didn’t hit showrooms until April, this suggests a very high level of consumer interest in the subcompact.) The new Toyota Camry also received a warm March reception, with requests up 57% versus February. Other notable newcomers included the Chevrolet Tahoe – up 60% in February versus January before leveling off in March (as gas prices rose) – and the Toyota FJ Cruiser, which was the 16th most requested model overall among Autobytel.com shoppers in March.
“Nine out of 10 of all automotive Internet users begin their online shopping process (on average two months) before setting foot in a dealership, ” added Chee. “So the strong response to the new RAV4, Camry, Tahoe, Yaris and FJ Cruiser bodes well for sales of those models in the weeks and months ahead.”
To speak with an Autobytel analyst about Q1 and current Autobytel consumer trends in light of soaring fuel prices, contact Betsy Isroelit at 323.960.1360, ext. 17.
About Autobytel Inc.
Autobytel Inc. (Nasdaq: ABTL), a leading Internet automotive marketing services company, helps retailers sell cars and manufacturers build brands through marketing, advertising, data and CRM products and programs. Autobytel owns and operates the automotive websites—Autobytel.com, Autoweb.com, Carsmart.com, Car.com, AutoSite.com, Autoahorros.com, and CarTV.com. This automotive research and buying network reaches millions of car shoppers each month as they make their vehicle buying decisions, generating billions of dollars in sales for dealers. A leader in dealership customer management and CRM solutions, Autobytel also owns and operates AVV, Inc., a top provider of dealership CRM and sales management products, and Retention Performance Marketing, Inc., (RPMฎ), which powers dealerships with cutting-edge customer loyalty and retention marketing programs. Autobytel’s AIC (Automotive Information Center) has been a trusted industry source of automotive marketing data and technology for nearly 24 years.