Topic: industry insights
It’s no secret that the COVID-19 lockdown has hit the automotive industry hard. UK dealerships were closed for just over two months in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. Typically, hundreds of thousands of used and new vehicles would have been sold during this time period.
Instead, what we’ve seen is the creation of pent-up demand from consumers who wanted to purchase a vehicle but could not do so in March and April. However, although UK leads submitted to dealers hit a low in March and fluctuate day to day, they’ve been on the rise overall ever since. This lift in leads tallies with the results of our COVID-19 Sentiment Study, which found that 87% of respondents expect to purchase a car later than they initially planned. Even more significant, only 4% of those planning to buy this year have delayed their plans indefinitely. In other words, sales will still happen this year—just a bit later than expected.
The spread of COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the UK economy. It’s driven people indoors and pushed businesses to furlough large amounts of their workforce, resulting in a recession. Additionally, the pandemic forced the closure of car dealerships for much of March and all of April, which brought the automotive sector to a near halt.
New vehicle registrations in April alone fell 97%. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), only 4,321 new cars were registered in April 2020. That’s the lowest monthly registration number since February 1946 when the UK was undergoing rationing and trying to rebuild after wartime destruction. But despite the steep decline in sales in recent months, it’s not all doom and gloom for dealers.
For those retailers digitally managing leads and tracking attribution, there’s a broad spread of options being employed. Believe it or not, more than a quarter of used car dealers are still using paper-based systems to manage leads. Built around a survey of more than 700 independent and franchised used car dealers and our annual Dealer Council meeting, the second-annual CarGurus One Voice Report examines the lead management challenge and how dealers are coping.
It was nearly impossible to have a conversation about the future of any industry in the UK in 2019 without mentioning Brexit. Despite that big, unknown headwind, UK car dealers are optimistic about 2020.
Built around a survey of more than 700 independent and franchised used car dealers and our annual Dealer Council meeting, the second-annual CarGurus One Voice Report examines the topics set to be key to car retailer performance in 2020.
A test drive is the one thing customers can’t do online, so it’s among the main draws to physical showrooms and potentially your best opportunity to interact with customers in the flesh. The industry-standard loop from and to the dealership is alive and well, but more and more manufacturers have begun offering extended test drives, such as Mercedes, SEAT, and Volvo – often for days at a time.
Longer test drives can be an extremely powerful sales tool if you have the capacity to offer them. We explain the perks and how you can make them work for you.
Electric vehicle residual values are tricky things to predict. Continual advances in the technology and the rapid escalation of new models means second-hand examples can become an unknown quantity and much harder to value than established petrol and diesel equivalents.
For lack of a time-honoured structure, dealers need to make sure they’re buying and selling used EVs for the right money. We explain how you can stay one step ahead of the plug-in pricing game.
It’s hardly a secret that the majority of new cars are sold on credit. According to the Finance and Leasing Association, 91% of private new car sales were funded by its members in the 12 months to April 2019, which illustrates what little role cash buyers now play.
Personal contract purchase (PCP) has long been the default form of car finance in the UK. Its cyclical nature – your first PCP is unlikely to be your last – has been a hit with retailers and customers alike, while the up-front carrot of a flexible end to the contract – roll onto a new one, hand the car back, or pay the balloon and keep it – is a comforting set of options.
PCP’s status as the dominant credit package is under threat, though. The UK’s teetering economy and uncertain future are causing many buyers to think twice about committing to any form of finance – you only have to look at last year’s 6.8% fall in new car sales and 2019’s 3.1% year-to-date drop to see that. Those in a position to buy new are therefore more likely to gravitate toward more affordable types of funding and potentially shorter leases.
The franchise model is the time-honoured way of selling new cars, but moves are afoot within the motor industry to switch to an agency-style arrangement, which could upend the conventional way of selling vehicles. It’s still early days for the concept, but if it catches on, then dealers could be in for a whole new way of running their businesses.