A lack of clarity caused by the government, regulators and the car industry itself on key issues ranging from diesel to future car technology is holding potential new-car buyers back from making purchases, new research shown exclusively to Autocar suggests.
New car sales were down 5.5% year on year in the first half of this year. An HPS Group survey of 1000 potential new-car buyers backs up assertions from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) that buyers are simply holding off a purchase, rather than cancelling it altogether, as a result of ongoing market uncertainty.
The research suggests that 90% of would-be car buyers will replace their current car as expected and that as many are likely to bring forward a decision as hold off at present. This contradicts the common belief that car sales are caught in a long-term slump.
The biggest reason for delaying a car purchase was the lack of clarity from government on diesel and future fuel policy, cited by 59% of those expressing concerns. “Almost half of those expressing a concern are worried that diesels could be banned, 42% have worries about the resale value of their car if they buy diesel and 33% are caught in a vortex because they don’t know what to buy instead of a diesel – these are huge numbers, and it’s clear what a bit of clarity could do to tip buyers into making a purchase,” said Damien Field, head of HPS MM-Eye. “The desire for clarity on this issue could not be more evident.”
Other factors holding people back from purchase decisions included fears over Brexit and the economy (affecting 44% of respondents). However, factors the car industry could influence included the idea that car buying isn’t enjoyable (29%), is too complex (23%) and offers too many finance options (23%). “Overall, around 16% of respondents admit to being overwhelmed,” said Field. “There is opportunity for the car industry within that.”