In our thirteenth Carzone Motoring Report we found that car buying habits have changed due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly half (48%) of dealers feeling the car buying journey has become faster.
The research offers new insights into the automotive industry in Ireland and is compiled based on an in-depth survey of over 2,000 car buyers and over 150 dealerships.
Open To Change
The process of car buying drastically changed as a result of COVID-19. The industry and buyers adapted quickly to the restrictions, 29% of buyers visited dealerships less often when deciding on a car and 14% carried out most of their car buying journey online or remotely.
According to the Carzone Motoring Report a significant number of recent car buyers surveyed (50%) did not test drive the car prior to purchasing it. It seems that car buyers and the industry at large are more adaptable than expected, with nearly all of those surveyed (93%) saying they were satisfied with the changes to the car buying journey as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dealerships surveyed also back that up as 48% suggest that the whole car buying process now takes less time, partly because car buyers are further along the decision-making journey when they engage with dealerships.
While some car buyers (35%) report a reduction in their car-buying budget because of COVID-19 the research suggests that budgets have increased overall with two thirds (65%) of respondents saying they have more budget or their budget has remained the same. 44% of car buyers admit that they are willing to pay more for a car if it means they get it sooner.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of online and cashless transactions generally and car buyers are more open than ever to carrying out their car-buying journey online.
Over half (56%) of car buyers are willing to pay a deposit for a car online and 38% of used car buyers would pay for a car in full online without seeing the car in person. They cite ease and convenience (50%) and a safer payment process (43%) as the main advantages to buying a car online.
However, the survey respondents also indicate that it is not unconditional trust. Almost half (44%) would place high value in the ability to watch a video of the car they are considering, and over a third (35%) would like the option to speak to the dealership or seller on the phone while 56% of buyers prefer to communicate via email or online chat.
Of those car buyers that indicate they would not buy a car online, the majority (75%) say that they would like to see the car in person while 70% would prefer to test drive the car.
Financing The Next Generation
Two thirds (69%) of motorists confirmed they will use finance or a loan to buy their next car. Personal contract plan (PCP) is the most popular form of finance at 34% followed by credit union loans at 24% and hire purchase (HP) at 19%.
The majority of respondents (84%) indicate that they are more likely to consider a car that has an indicative monthly finance cost displayed on the advert.
Commenting on the Carzone Motoring Report, Karl Connolly, Audience Manager Carzone said:
“The thirteenth Carzone Motoring Report takes a detailed look at the Irish motoring retail landscape and the impact that COVID-19 has had on both the motoring industry and the car buying journey.
The results are fascinating, revealing what has changed about the car buying journey and how the industry and car buyers are adapting to those changes. Surprisingly more than half of recent car buyers that were surveyed didn’t do a test drive before purchasing their vehicle and 93% were satisfied with the the changes to the car buying journey as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our report has shown that COVID-19 has accelerated changes to the car buying journey that were perhaps already coming down the tracks, and it looks like those changes are here to stay.”
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