Pandemic has caused almost 14 million UK drivers to change their car buying plans

Kwik Fit | Thursday 8th October 2020 3:42pm

  • Infection concerns, environmental issues and possible bargains making drivers more likely to change their vehicle
  • Just 8% of vehicle owners expect their next car to be fully electric

The coronavirus has thrown many decisions up in the air over the last six months and a new study shows that people’s car buying plans are no exception. While the end of the first lockdown saw a rise in car sales due to pent up demand, new research1 from Kwik Fit reveals that the pandemic has changed the vehicle purchase intentions of 13.9 million UK drivers.

7.5 million motorists revealed the impact of the pandemic has made them less likely to buy a new or used car in the next twelve months. However, in some welcome good news for the motor industry, 6.4 million drivers say they are more likely to change their vehicle over the coming year. Of those now more likely to change their vehicle, 51% expect to buy a brand new model.

The UK’s largest automotive service and repair company found that concern over infection, environmental factors and capitalising on deals were the reasons given most often by drivers newly planning to be in the car market. Of the 6.4 million drivers who are more likely to buy a new or used car in the coming year as a result of Covid-19, one in five (20%) said that they will be using their car more as they do not want to use public transport. Almost as many (18%) said that they had seen the environmental benefits of lower traffic and so wanted to buy a more eco-friendly car. The same number (18%) said that having seen the environmental benefits of lower traffic they will be driving less, suggesting that they are likely to swap their vehicle for one appropriate for fewer journeys.

In a mix of good news and bad news for car dealers, one in six drivers (17%) who are more likely to be in the market for a new car say that they think the prices of cars will drop so they will be able to afford a better one. A similar percentage (16%) say that lockdown made them realise that they need a car more than they thought, a reason perhaps related to the concerns over public transport. For many across the nation, Covid-19 has caused them to take stock of what’s important to them. Suggesting that some are preparing to sacrifice practicality for passion, one in seven drivers (13%) more likely to change their car say they want to enjoy life so they are going to buy the car they really want.

When it comes to their next car, Kwik Fit found that despite the government’s desire to stop the sale of all petrol, diesel and hybrid cars by 2035, all three fuel systems remain more appealing to drivers than full electric models. 9.3 million drivers expect their next car to be fuelled by petrol, 7.6 million will buy a hybrid or plug in hybrid and 3.2 million still want to get a diesel car when they next change vehicle. Interestingly, it’s the younger generation looking more at diesel vehicles as 13% of 18-34-year-olds expect their next car to use this fuel.

Just 8% of car owners expect their next one to be fully electric. Scots lead the way when it comes to the switch to electric vehicles as 16% of car owners north of the border expect to commit to one when they change their car next. Moving to full electric for their next vehicle appeals to 14% of drivers in the East of England, followed by 11% in the North East and 10% of Londoners.

The lack of fast charging points in the areas people commonly drive is the most common reason for motorists not committing to a fully electric vehicle (37%). Other reasons include restrictions on range from a single charge (35%), the increased cost over an equivalent sized petrol, diesel or hybrid car (33%), not being able to charge it at home (30%) and worrying that the battery won’t last very long and will need replaced (26%).

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.

“Our research also highlights that although the government is consulting on ending the sale of diesel, petrol and hybrid cars before its previous target date of 2035 – just 15 years away – there is still a lot to be done to convince drivers. There have been many early adopters, but there needs to be ongoing education and infrastructure programmes to ensure fully electric vehicles become the mainstream. Motorists still have a lot to learn about electric cars and our local areas need to be better prepared to cope with an influx of electric car owners. Regardless of the fuel system, and whether or not Covid is prompting a change of vehicle, it is important car owners remember to maintain their vehicle so it remains safe to drive and runs as efficiently as possible.”

For the latest news and updates from Kwik Fit, customers can follow the company on Twitter at @kwik_fit.

Note to editors

1.Research carried out by Opinium amongst 2,003 UK adults in July 2020

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