Automotive Industry Digest

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Market unleashed as online car-buying interest overtakes this point last year

Ending lockdown unleashed a surge in demand for cars, with spectacular increases in every measure of consumer interest during June.

But according to the online car supermarket, enquiries from buyers are not simply bouncing back from the depths of the coronavirus crisis – they are already beginning to overtake pre-pandemic levels.

During the past fortnight alone – since traditional car dealers were first allowed to reopen physical showrooms – the virtual forecourt of has recorded a 70% increase in new customers registering an account and a 45% hike in new orders for cars.

And in the first 18 days of June has booked more car deliveries to customers than for the whole month of June last year.

Even the absolute number of people researching for their next car purchase is now edging above June of last year, long before the crisis brought car-buying to a virtual halt this year.

Analysts at believe that headlines about dealers being permitted to open their doors are not the sole reason for the surge in interest among would-be car buyers. Signs were already appearing before lockdown ended that more consumers than before now seek the convenience of buying online, rather than physically shopping around.

Soon-to-be published research into car-buyers’ intentions suggests that more than one in ten buyers are likely to buy their next car online. BuyaCar believes that widespread embracing of the ‘click and receive’ way of buying cars is being driven by an increase in traditional dealers, such as the Motorpoint car supermarket along with many smaller independents offering a delivery service, as well as established online specialists like and newcomers such as Cazoo and Heycar.

Helped by heavy advertising by some online car sales specialists, a raft of news stories about contactless delivery and handover during the Covid-19 lockdown and heavily publicised incentives helping NHS staff and key workers to stay mobile during the crisis, the ‘Amazonification’ of car buying has cleared a big hurdle of consumer acceptance this year.

Chief Executive of, Andy Oldham, said: “Everyone expected the easing of lockdown to bring more car shoppers out but even we have been surprised by the appetite among consumers during the first half of June.

“For example, the number of cars reserved for purchase on during the first two months of June was 132% higher than for the whole of May, when we were continually taking orders for future delivery. And we beat last June’s total of cars booked for delivery in the first 18 days of this month.

“We believe we are not just seeing the release of pent-up demand from the lockdown period, but a genuine increase in the profile of online car-buying in general, prompted by widespread publicity around advantages it offered during the initial coronavirus crisis period.

“The remarkable increase in traffic to our own site and those of other online specialists cannot be explained only by a return to more normal levels of trade. In our own case we’re seeing an absolute increase in the number of car-buyers looking for a different way of buying their next vehicle compared with a year ago.

“Nor is it just a case of post-lockdown window shopping, because we have recorded a 75% increase in the number of finance applications completed by visitors in June, compared with May.

“The online car market has steadily gained wider consumer acceptance over recent years, but 2020 looks set to be the moment when it truly becomes a natural choice for a significant proportion of car buyers.”

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Automotive Industry Digest

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