[mkdf_custom_font custom_font_tag="h2" font_size="44" font_weight="300" text_align="left" content_custom_font="'The Digital Car Buyer in Numbers 2021'" color="#000000"][mkdf_custom_font custom_font_tag="h2" font_size="28" font_weight="600" text_align="left" content_custom_font="Download Sophus3's annual review of the automotive digital world" color="#000000"]
The Digital Car Buyer in Numbers 2021 front cover image featuring a black swan

Here you can download ‘The Digital Car Buyer in Numbers 2021’ which was presented to the Sophus3 Automotive Digital Summit on April 19th 2021.


Digital Car Buyer in Numbers 2021 final.pdf

Executive summary

2020: The year in numbers

  • The Covid-19 pandemic impacted automotive sector activity in every market in unprecedented ways.
  • Traffic to car brand websites in the ‘Big 5’ plummeted 56% in April (p. 5) but recovered in the summer. (p. 6)
  • Compared to other sectors automotive was more adversely affected during the early days of the pandemic. (p. 6)
  • Over the year as whole, the fall was less dramatic with a 11% y-o-y fall in the ‘Big 5’ markets (p. 7), and 13% globally. (p. 8).
  • Bounce rates, visit duration and page view numbers continued their long term decline (although this may not be a ‘negative’). (p. 9)
  • Device use, perhaps surprisingly given many people’s confinement to home, continued to move towards a preference for mobile. 58% of site access was from small form factor devices during 2020 – up 8%. (p. 10)
  • SUVs continued to be the most visited vehicle segment online (p.11) but there were some Covid related anomalies including heightened interest in ‘camper vans’. (p.12)
  • Electric Vehicles (EVs) recorded greatly increased interest, heightened by the announcement of government subsidies for these models. (p.12)
  • Visits to car brand YouTube channels recovered and grew; interactions through facebook fell.  (p.13)
  • Automotive print and TV advertising spend fell dramatically in April, and only recovered to 66% of its 2019 level by year end. (p.14)
  • Audi was the only brand to sustain spend during the year. Ford ran the largest pan-European campaign for its Puma model. (p.15)
  • ‘Big 5’ registrations were the worst on record, falling 25% during the year.  (p.17) No segment was exempt from this carnage (p. 18) but EV powertrains supplied a rare bright spot in the market. (p.20)
  • Registrations of pure Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) more than doubled in Europe. (p. 20)
  • There were 129 car brand web visits for every car sold in 2020 – effectively a 20% increase in conversion difficulty. (p. 21).

2021: The year ahead

  • It cannot be assumed that constraints imposed by the virus will disappear quickly. (p. 22)
  • Only when government subsidies and intervention programmes are removed will the economic impact of the pandemic be clear. (p. 22)
  • Car market recovery will depend on economic recovery and hopes of even 7-9% car market growth may be optimistic. (p. 23)
  • EVs and Hybrids look set to win larger market share. (p. 23)
  • New models of car usership may mean that the vehicle market is not as susceptible to economic downturn as post-2008. (p. 23)
  • Car brands must continue to strengthen their digital competency and grow their operational capabilities to meet consumer expectations of rapid, personalised responsiveness and fulfilment. (p. 24)

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