The negative effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on the new and used car markets was not as bad as first thought, new research has shown.
The fresh findings, from automotive servicing and repair company Kwik Fit, suggest that 3.8 million drivers have potentially put off a planned car purchase because of Covid. But this was largely offset by the fact that up to 3.2 million drivers were prompted by the impact of the pandemic to buy a new or used vehicle.
The majority of these car purchases were made by younger drivers: 16% of motorists aged 18-34 (2 million motorists) said the coronavirus issue prompted them to look for some new wheels. A further 1.2 million drivers (4%) aged 35 or over, bought a new car.
Kwik Fit’s research examined the reasons behind the pandemic purchases and found that a third (33%) of buyers said they were able to get a better car than they otherwise would have done because the price was lower than expected.
Three in ten (30%) prompted by the pandemic into a car purchase said they had a new job which required more travelling, so they bought a better car.
Another reason given for buying a new car is a potentially worrying sign for rush hour traffic levels: a quarter (24%) of respondents said Covid had prompted them to get a better model as they will be using it more for commuting to avoid public transport.
Holiday or weekend travel was in the minds of other drivers, with 7% saying that as a result of the pandemic they bought a car more suitable for going on domestic holidays rather than flying abroad.
The last 15 months have placed a huge burden on many people’s budgets. Kwik Fit found that while nearly a fifth (18%) of drivers who bought a new car because of the pandemic say they thought they could get a good deal as prices were reduced, the same proportion said they opted for a cheaper car because of the financial pressure caused by Covid.
And 30% of those who said they bought a new or used car because of the pandemic chose a hybrid or fully electric model, far outstripping low emission vehicles’ percentage share of all new and used car purchases.
“Like so many sectors, the automotive industry has been going through a very tough time during the pandemic,” says Roger Griggs, Kwik Fit communications director. “Our research shows that some drivers were badly impacted by Covid while, for a variety of reasons, other drivers were prompted by the pandemic to buy a new vehicle.
“As we come to the point where restrictions are almost fully removed, people will be settling into new travel patterns or re-establishing old ones and we expect to see even more drivers assessing whether their current car is the right one for their ongoing needs.”