Messy In-Car Eating Stains Vehicle Values

Hitting the drive-thru may save time, but may cost thousands of dollars when it comes to a vehicle's residual value if in-car diners are messy. According to the results of a national survey conducted by Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research and Taco Bell Corp., nearly 60% of all vehicle owners eat or allow someone to eat in their vehicles, yet only 34% rank a clean interior as the most important attribute

Hitting the drive-thru may save time, but may cost thousands of dollars when it comes to a vehicle's residual value if in-car diners are messy.

According to the results of a national survey conducted by Kelley Blue Book Marketing Research and Taco Bell Corp., nearly 60% of all vehicle owners eat or allow someone to eat in their vehicles, yet only 34% rank a clean interior as “the most important attribute to the long-term value of their vehicle” (vs. 66% for exterior).

That could be costly.

“Our research highlights a huge misperception among consumers: that the interior condition of a car has less importance than the exterior appearance in terms of residual value,” says Jack R. Nerad, executive editorial director and market analyst for Kelley Blue Book.

Cars in excellent condition and appearance inside and out can be valued thousands of dollars higher than those in good or fair condition, he says.

“Messy interiors could potentially cost owners thousands of dollars when it comes time to turn in or sell their vehicles,” Nerad says.

Some fast-food chains such as Taco Bell are creating solutions for diners on the go with mess-free products like the Crunchwrap Supreme in a self-contained flour tortilla.

Meanwhile, some automotive companies are developing stain-resistant seats and interiors that can be hosed out.

A survey indicates that people who allow eating in their vehicle are less concerned with their vehicle's overall appearance, ranking all vehicle attributes lower than those who don't allow eating in their car.

Burgers and fries are the messiest food eaten in respondents' cars.

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