Survey shows that a lack of clarity on issues such as diesel is holding buyers back
Jim Holder
4 September 2018

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.”

Sales of used diesels rise despite overall decline in second-hand car market

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.”

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Respondents rated the appeal of potential solutions to their concerns, scoring home test drives highest (59%), followed by better after-sales support (50%), trade-in guarantees if tech becomes obsolete (48%), better advice on future tech and cars (47%), the choice of flexible car ownership (39%), better finance advice (38%), the option to buy online (35%) and independent legislation advice (33%).

“What consumers are crying out for is clarity,” said Field. “We know car buying is complex, but some of it is needlessly so. The knock-on effect of uncertainty around diesel goes on and on, for instance: it’s not just that people don’t know whether to buy one, but they don’t know which of the alternatives to consider, or the tax and legislative impacts of those decisions.

“That extends to more traditional problem areas for the industry: PCPs [personal contract purchases] are in the spotlight, and may not be the automatic go-to solution for buyers in the future, especially as interest rates rise. But who will explain the options with clarity and stop uncertainty creating inertia around purchase? The car industry can do a lot to help itself if it faces up to these issues.”

Hybrids are too highbrow

A substantial number of respondents to the survey didn’t know the difference between electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid cars, highlighting the need for more education about electrified vehicles.

Of those surveyed, 37% said they were familiar with electric cars, 33% with plug-in hybrids and 29% with hybrids. Just 8% said they would buy an EV as their next car, with 24% claiming they would choose a hybrid and 10% a PHEV.

“It’s notable how interest among people who do understand the technology drops off when faced with a buying decision,” said HPS MM-Eye boss Damien Field. “The tech may simply not suit their needs.”

Read more

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Comments
13

4 September 2018
With a contract hire agreement rapidly coming to an end, the only thing stopping me getting a new car is supply. I'm not too fussed about what the car is, so long as it's Golf size or above, fits my budget profile and it's not a Ford. Of all the models I've looked at so far the dealer/broker cannot provide a delivery date or they are quoting Feb/March 19.

4 September 2018
Marc wrote:

With a contract hire agreement rapidly coming to an end, the only thing stopping me getting a new car is supply. I'm not too fussed about what the car is, so long as it's Golf size or above, fits my budget profile and it's not a Ford. Of all the models I've looked at so far the dealer/broker cannot provide a delivery date or they are quoting Feb/March 19.

Really? my mate swapped his 420d for a brand new A6 on PCP at Milton Keynes Audi, waiting time 8 weeks. Another one has just ordered an XE through selectcar leasing, given delivery date 26th of October again 8 weeks waiting time. 

4 September 2018
wheels wrote:

Marc wrote:

With a contract hire agreement rapidly coming to an end, the only thing stopping me getting a new car is supply. I'm not too fussed about what the car is, so long as it's Golf size or above, fits my budget profile and it's not a Ford. Of all the models I've looked at so far the dealer/broker cannot provide a delivery date or they are quoting Feb/March 19.

Really? my mate swapped his 420d for a brand new A6 on PCP at Milton Keynes Audi, waiting time 8 weeks. Another one has just ordered an XE through selectcar leasing, given delivery date 26th of October again 8 weeks waiting time. 

Yep, really.  Not interested in PCP only PCH.  Doubt a 4 Series or an A6 fits my £200.00 inc VAT per month 3 x 35/47 budget.  Currently have a KIA Optima Wagon, I can get another one but fancied a change. 

4 September 2018
Marc wrote:

With a contract hire agreement rapidly coming to an end, the only thing stopping me getting a new car is supply. I'm not too fussed about what the car is, so long as it's Golf size or above, fits my budget profile and it's not a Ford. Of all the models I've looked at so far the dealer/broker cannot provide a delivery date or they are quoting Feb/March 19.

That seems ridiculous, is the wait because manufacturers are having problems with the new emissions test? 

4 September 2018
si73 wrote:

Marc wrote:

With a contract hire agreement rapidly coming to an end, the only thing stopping me getting a new car is supply. I'm not too fussed about what the car is, so long as it's Golf size or above, fits my budget profile and it's not a Ford. Of all the models I've looked at so far the dealer/broker cannot provide a delivery date or they are quoting Feb/March 19.

That seems ridiculous, is the wait because manufacturers are having problems with the new emissions test? 

None will say, just supply issues from the factory, particularly with diesel models.

I've been working for FCA in Italy on and off for the past few months. They suspended production of diesel models for nearly two months over the summer. They're only just restarting it now and that's only on a few models.

4 September 2018

Strong residual values, economic, spacious, inexpensive, always a deal to be had... 

4 September 2018
JimmyMac wrote:

Strong residual values, economic, spacious, inexpensive, always a deal to be had... 

Couldn't give a crap about residuals, I just pay the monthly figures and hand it back, not too bothered about economy either, employer picks up most of the running costs.

Having had dealings with Ford on a proffesional and personal level, they are not a company I would ever go near again.  They're a dinosaur that deserves to disappear. 

7 September 2018
JimmyMac wrote:

Strong residual values, economic, spacious, inexpensive, always a deal to be had... 

Because Ford cars are total and utter shit, and Ford's grasping, incompetent and unsympathetic dealers are even worse.

4 September 2018

Not surprized people are confused with statements like this in the article "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."

4 September 2018

How about Hyundai?  An i30 Tourer should be available and would fit the bill?

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