Nearly a quarter of car purchases in 2020 were down to the coronavirus pandemic

Nearly a quarter of car buyers in 2020 had not been planning to buy a vehicle before the coronavirus pandemic hit, according to new research.

A study of 2,000 car buyers published by online car marketplace CarGurus indicates that many of these people had been put off ridesharing or using public transport.

Thirty-six per cent of ridesharing users and 40 per cent of public transport users said they expect to decrease or stop using these services going forward.

Coronavirus – Mon June 1, 2020
Coronavirus – Mon June 1, 2020

Meanwhile, 44 per cent of those who bought during the pandemic said they had an ‘immediate need’, followed by the desire to have a vehicle for personal hobbies and travel with 32 per cent.

The pandemic also shifted buying habits, with more people becoming open to buying online as dealers improved click and collect and delivery services to promote social distancing. The study found two-thirds of buyers are open to buying online, 56 per cent prefer online price negotiation, and 35 per cent preferring online financing.

Madison Gross, director of customer insights at CarGurus, said: “With the challenges of 2020, it’s natural that we are seeing a change in behaviour among consumers, not only in their approach to buying, but also in their perception of public transport and ridesharing services, which can clearly fuel a demand.

“What is really encouraging is that the automotive industry is getting more agile in its response to these changes. New facilities including contactless services and online buying journeys, which clearly resonate with consumers, are being championed by retailers across the UK, and hopefully this continues well into 2021 and beyond.”

By the end of November, just under 1.5 million new vehicles had been registered in the UK in 2020, a drop of 31 per cent on the same period in 2019.

Alternatively fuelled vehicles are bucking the trend, though, with electric vehicles up 162 per cent and plug-in hybrids up 89 per cent.