Survey Says Car Buyers Are Willing to Travel an Average of 500 Miles for a Deal
In Alaska, people will venture 722 miles to get a decent price, according to a survey conducted by a Kentucky-based Subaru dealership.
Buying a car in the last two years has become a gauntlet of supply and semiconductor chip shortages, empty dealer lots, long waiting periods, and dealer markups, some more unreasonable than others. Finding a vehicle is not nearly as easy as it was before March of 2020, and some consumers are going out of their way to do so.
As highlighted by Car & Driver, one Subaru dealership in Lexington, Kentucky polled 2,690 drivers in the U.S. to find out how many miles they were willing to travel to get to the used car of their dreams (or maybe just a car, period). On average, those polled by Quantrell Subaru said they’d travel 469 miles. According to the survey findings, Alaskans are willing to travel the furthest at 722 miles and New Mexico residents would go 700. Vermonters were the least amenable to long trips, indicating they’d step on the brakes at 286 miles.
Consumer demand is outpacing supply by quite a bit, and the imbalance has set the entire industry topsy-turvy. For new cars, some buyers are looking at resources online like Markups.org, which crowdsources dealer markup information around the country. Users can segment the data by price, state, and city to find the best deal in a market that has become unfriendly to good deals. Some automakers are choosing to take the dealer process online; Ford boss Jim Farley announced earlier this month that the Blue Oval would transition to online fixed-price sales for EVs. Tesla has been doing it this way for years, operating showrooms where prospective customers can check out the vehicle and then place their orders.
The used car market has been subject to a host of unusual factors since 2020. Rental car companies, finding themselves with a glut of cars and no customers, sold off their fleet and then started snapping up all the vehicles they could find at auction in order to meet pent-up demand. As a result, car prices are all over the map.
With the price of gas soaring past five dollars per gallon, even a 200-mile trip isn't a cheap option. Even if you wanted to fly one way and pick up a vehicle, airfare is sky high and airlines cancelling flights by the dozens right now. Somehow, however, driving hundreds of miles makes sense to people trying to find a car that fits their budget.
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