As consumers emerge from lockdown, change travel plans, and reconsider what mobility will look like in the long-term, vehicles are becoming even more vital to everyday life, according to our latest COVID-19 Sentiment Study in the UK. In fact, more than a third (34%) of those surveyed said they expect to use their car more going forward than before the pandemic.
In the near-term, 38% of respondents say they see their car as an escape or for fun. Additionally, 42% say they expect to use their car for more road trips or longer drives, while 66% of those planning to travel this year say they intend to drive, rather than fly, for at least one trip.
But today’s global health crisis could also have a lasting impact. While buyers felt somewhat more comfortable with alternate forms of transportation in June than in April, 44% of respondents who previously used ridesharing said they expect to decrease their use of these services—or stop using them entirely. Among them, 60% of them will use their personal vehicles more as a result (up from 53% in April). Additionally, 56% of those who previously used public transportation also plan to decrease their use of these services, with 60% using their personal vehicles more (up from 32% in April). The overall increase in personal vehicle usage has the potential to drive increased maintenance and service needs.
These findings highlight the crucial role vehicles play in enabling people to go about their daily lives during the lockdown, but they also highlight selling opportunities for dealers. With consumers spending more time in their personal cars going forward, dealers could have an opportunity to upsell more buyers. Consumers might be looking for certain features or add-ons like leather seats or GPS to make their vehicle more useful or comfortable, and dealers should be prepared to explain all their offerings. Additionally, car buyers might be more flexible with their budget if they know they’ll be more likely to get their money’s worth as they begin to use their car more.
In today’s unique sales environment, dealers should be willing to adapt and bring as much of the buying process online as possible. Not only will it make consumers more comfortable—76% of current prospective buyers would prefer to use contactless services like virtual appointments, at-home test drives, or home delivery—it could help dealers’ bottom lines.