July 29, 2021

Consumers want F&I info ahead of store visit

Car shoppers want more finance information sooner in the process, confirming industry beliefs that placing more emphasis on finance and insurance in digital retailing is critical for some consumers, a recent CarGurus survey found.

Vehicle affordability is an ongoing concern in the automotive retail industry, with average transaction prices steadily increasing every month. Inventory constraints restricting new- and used-vehicle options for consumers is an additional hurdle for consumers pursuing a specific price point.

In the survey of 754 consumers conducted in November 2020, 93 percent of car shoppers agree that pre-qualifying for a loan prior to visiting the dealership would be useful. Just two in three respondents, however, even knew this was an option, CarGurus said.

All respondents either intended to buy a car within the next 12 months or had purchased one in the last two years, CarGurus said. Respondents also needed to have financed their recent car purchase, or were considering financing for their upcoming purchase.

Half of those surveyed who recently financed a vehicle pre-qualified for their auto loan, the survey said. Consumers placed equal weight on the monthly payment and interest rate charged on their vehicle loan, the survey also found. The total price paid over the life of the loan ranked No. 2 among consumers’ most important factor, with the length of the loan as the least important among the listed choices.

Another key takeaway from the survey was 42 percent of shoppers said they wanted to see the real monthly payment for their total purchase during the online shopping phase.

More accurate payment information and the ability to pre-qualify for auto loans and leases is of interest to consumers. As the industry continues its digital evolution, customers are interested in earlier F&I processes.