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Covid pandemic is changing our car buying plans

New research suggests 14 million UK car owners have changed their minds about their next car purchase

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The coronavirus pandemic has led to a change in the car buying plans of almost 14 million Brits, new research suggests.

The numbers, taken from a survey of 2,000 UK adults on behalf of Kwik-Fit, are relatively evenly split between those who say they are less likely to purchase another car in the coming 12 months, and those who are more likely to change their car.

Although the easing of lockdown procedures in summer saw some pent-up demand leasing to increased private car sales over the last few months, the new survey suggests that as many as 7.5 million motorists are less likely to buy a new or used car than before Covid-19 arrived.

However, it’s not all doom and gloom for the car industry, as up to 6.4 million car owners are now more likely to change their car in the coming year. Of these people, 51% plan to buy a brand new model.

Furthermore, 20% of these drivers said they wanted to use their car more because they wanted to avoid public transport, while almost 18% said they had seen the environmental impact of using their car less, so wanted to buy a greener car.

However, just 8% said they expect their next purchase to be an electric vehicle.

The drivers that were not planning to go electric next cited a lack of fast chargers (37%) as the main reason for not buying an EV, followed closely by range anxiety (35%) and the higher purchase price (33%).

Roger Griggs, communications director of Kwik Fit, said: “Coronavirus has changed so many lives this year that it’s no surprise people are altering their car buying plans, but we were astonished to see just how many drivers say they are more likely to buy a new car as a result of the pandemic.

“No matter if it is a new or used car people are buying, we would advise buyers to do their research as the lowest price is not always the best option, and be sure to get all appropriate documentation – especially for used cars – to ensure they have been maintained properly.”

Covid-19 has thrown car buying plans into chaos

The coronavirus pandemic has already had a massive impact on our economy, and seems ever-more likely to lead to long-term changes for the car industry.

With millions of people now working from home rather than commuting to their workplace, a car has become less of a priority than it was 12 months ago. Combined with enormous employment uncertainty across the UK for the short-term future, and it’s no wonder that millions of car owners are reassessing their plans.

For some, there will be an imperative to get off trains or buses and into a private car. However, the majority of those trading a bus pass for a V5 are likely to be at the lower end of the spending scale, which is good news for budget brands and used car dealers, but not that helpful to a lot of new car manufacturers.

For others, there will be a desire to replace an existing car with a cheaper model when their current PCP agreement comes to an end to reduce household costs. Again, that benefits cheaper new and used cars rather than more expensive vehicles.

Meanwhile, many multi-car households will be questioning whether they need to keep two (or more) cars on the driveway at all if they’re stuck at home most of the time. We could see a lower number of cars per household becoming a trend over the next 12 months.

All of this could have an enormous impact on the car industry. The road ahead looks bumpy.
Stuart Masson, Editor

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Darren Cassey
Darren Cassey
Articles by Darren Cassey are provided for The Car Expert by PA Media (formerly the Press Association). They include test drives of the latest new cars and features on various aspects of automotive life.