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Survey Finds More Buyers Focused on Financials

June 3, 2005

MCLEAN, Va. -- With interest rates on the rise and dealer purchase incentives declining, a national survey from financial services provider Capital One revealed that today's car buyers are steering their attention more sharply toward the financing arrangements for their vehicle purchases, including more loan shopping and budget planning, compared to last year's buyers.

"Today's car buyers are shopping smarter than ever before. They are more budget conscious and they recognize the important link between the various financial elements of buying a car and their ability to get the best value from their purchase," said Diana Don Colby, director of financial education at Capital One.

The survey of more than 1,000 recent and prospective auto buyers found that people preparing to buy a vehicle in the next year view the financial aspects — such as their loan and purchase price — as the most important elements of their buying experience. Almost half (49 percent) of consumers planning to buy in the coming year ranked financial issues as the most critical part of a satisfying car buying experience, up from one-third (32 percent) of those who bought in the last year.

A growing number of consumers are also using research and educational tools to help prepare for the car-buying process and ensure that they are getting the best deal possible. In fact, among those planning to purchase a vehicle in the next year, 57 percent say they will comparison shop for car loans through multiple financing sources before buying — up from 37 percent of those who purchased in the last year. An additional 84 percent of people planning to buy in the coming year say they will develop a budget for their purchase, compared to 65 percent of buyers from the previous year.

While many consumers realize that shopping for car loans can have great benefits, 20 percent of this year's car buyers say they have no plans to conduct any research on their car loan options prior to arriving at the dealership.

Braun Research conducted 1,004 telephone interviews with consumers who had purchased a new or used vehicle in the past 12 months, or who plan to purchase a new or used vehicle in the next 12 months.

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