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Published May 23rd 2024

2024: Consumer Trends for the Automotive Industry

Discover the biggest consumer trends in the automotive industry, from electric cars to AI to vehicle subscriptions.

The industry has seen a lot of changes in recent years, from supply chain issues to a surge in used cars and the rise of electric cars. What's big in this year and beyond?    

For our latest report on consumer trends in the automotive industry, we analyzed online conversations with Brandwatch Consumer Research to see how consumer behavior has changed.    

Read on to discover which trends are emerging and which are fading.  

Trend 1: Customer experience becomes less positive  

A superior customer experience is critical to brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. Brands that don't deliver a seamless customer experience risk being overtaken by their competitors. Consumers are quick to go online and talk about their experiences, and when it comes to the automotive industry, their experiences seem to be less positive.    

Over the past two years, the number of unique authors discussing positive customer experiences has decreased, and it’s now lower than the number of authors discussing negative experiences. 

What are consumers’ pain points? Consumers complain online that their customer service experience hasn't met their expectations. These unmet expectations include problems with customer service, dealerships, auto insurance, or repair shops. 

Trend 2: Aesthetics play a big role in car conversations  

The look and design of a car play a crucial role in purchasing decisions. In fact, a car's aesthetics is the number one feature discussed in online car conversations, ahead of spaciousness, handling, and speed. 

It's also the feature that triggers the most positive emotions. No other feature is mentioned as happily as the look of a car. Joyful online posts about aesthetics that share an image most likely include the following: 

  • The color blue 
  • Lights 
  • Sport cars 
  • Wheels 
  • Images in black-and-white 
  • Vintage cars 

In online discussions about cars, consumers discuss car models and brands, frequently sharing pictures of their favorite cars. Online data also suggests that Gen Z are more likely to talk about cars’ design than other generations. 

Trend 3: The range anxiety conversation is growing  

Battery, charging, and range are among the most discussed topics in online discussions about electric cars. How far an electric vehicle can go before the battery needs to be recharged is one of the most talked about concerns.   

There is a term to describe the feeling electric car drivers get when they get stressed about range: range anxiety. And more people are talking about it online. The number of unique authors mentioning range anxiety increased by 38% from April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024 compared to the previous 12 months. 

Consumers worry that they won't make it to their destination before the battery runs out, or that they've miscalculated the range of their car. Others, like this user, say that range anxiety also starts before driving, due to not being able to go on longer trips without planning: 

Trend 4: The hype around sustainability and used cars has slowed down  

In 2020, the used car market exploded due to a shortage of new cars. Since then, online conversations around used cars have steadily declined, and the same is true for sustainability. Online mentions of cars and sustainability are down 16% from April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024 compared to the previous 12 months.  

In recent years, inflation and the higher cost of living have made it harder for consumers to prioritize sustainability in their purchasing decisions. According to a YouGov survey, 45% of respondents said that buying greener cars is a lower priority for them when they have a tighter budget. So, it's no surprise that sustainability is one of the most negatively discussed topics in online car conversations, with sadness being the most expressed emotion. 

Trend 5: Gen Z show more interest in vehicle subscriptions and leasing  

Subscription models are now a thing in many industries, allowing consumers more flexibility to use products without having to own them. In the automotive industry, consumers have more subscription models to choose from than ever before, and this is reflected in online conversations. 

The number of unique authors on Reddit discussing vehicle subscriptions and leasing has increased by 28% from April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024 compared to the previous 12 months. Consumers turn to Reddit to share their positive experiences or seek advice on whether the subscription or lease plan they are considering makes financial sense. 

Gen Z show more interest in subscription models and leasing than other generations. Online data indicates they are more likely to talk about it online than other generations, and according to a Deloitte study, younger consumers are more open to vehicle subscriptions than older generations

Discover more consumer trends in our new automotive report    

We are not done yet. Read more about the latest consumer trends in our new global automotive report and learn about:  

  • The changing shape of the online automotive conversation.
  • The most common consumer pain points around electric cars.
  • How consumers feel about automotive AI technologies.
  • Insights into automotive brands' social media performance. 
  • And much more.   

Read the report.  

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Consumer Trends in the Automotive Industry

We analyzed millions of online conversations around the automotive industry to identify the latest global consumer trends..

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