Car Dealer Live

Car Dealer Live 94: How is the US new and used car market performing? Journalist Cliff Banks explains all

Time 12:02 pm, September 7, 2020

Dealers know how turbulent the new and used car market has been in the UK since the start of lockdown, but was the same true in the USA?

On today’s Car Dealer Live (recorded earlier) we speak to Cliff Banks – a motoring journalist for 25 years and publisher of The Banks Report, which is a website that focuses on dealers and manufacturers.

Based in Detroit, Michigan, Banks has his finger on the pulse of the US new and used car market.

Here he speaks with Car Dealer founder James Baggott about a variety of topics including new car sales.

In the interview – which you can watch at the top of this story – Banks says: ‘The US market has been better than expected. April was rough but in May things started to turn around.

‘July was a very strong month – sales were still down across the board but profitability was up as dealers found new ways of doing business, including working with a reduced head count and getting customers to do as much online as possible.’

Banks reveals car manufacturers in the US don’t reveal monthly car registrations data like the SMMT does in the UK, instead they publish quarterly figures.

The pair chat about the fascinating similarities in the performance of new and used car sales in the US and the UK.

Banks also describes the state of online car sales and how dealers battle with big online players like Carvana and Vroom.

The trend for online car sales is very much driven by media hype, believes Banks, and he’s sceptical at the number of cars actually being bought online, but he was clear that online is helping customers interact with dealers more easily.

‘Take Carvana, for instance,’ says Banks in the video above. ‘It’s a business that has been in the news a lot and one that people watch closely as being a digital retailer. In some ways it is but the fact is it takes on average 14 to 15 touchpoint between the customer and Caravan before the transaction is actually consummated.

‘Businesses like Carvana and Vroom are competition but are allowing dealers to better compete. But dealers are struggling to rival these brands’ national coverage and being able to get their stock lists above Carvana’s or Vroom’s on advertising websites.’

The pair also talk about lockdown and Tesla.

Watch the interview in full on this post or you can get notifications every time we go live by subscribing to our YouTube channel.

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James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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