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Consumer interest in owning cars rises after coronavirus: survey

Friday, May 15, 2020 7:00 PM | Anonymous
The COVID-19 crisis could change why people buy cars, how they buy them and even who thinks they need to own a vehicle, according to a global survey conducted by consultant Capgemini.
The survey quizzed more than 11,000 potential buyers in 11 countries that account for 62% of global vehicle sales.
"We’re going to see individual vehicle usage rise as people more concerned with hygiene choose personal transportation," said Daniel Davenport of Capgemini’s North America auto sector. "There’s also more interest in car ownership from customers under 35 years old," a sentiment contrary to recent indications younger consumers put a low value on owning a vehicle.
While 35% of all people surveyed globally were considering getting a car this year, 45% of those under 35 were considering doing so and a majority of the latter group have never owned a car.
"It’s potentially a seismic shift," Davenport said.
The survey included people in China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Spain, Sweden, the Netherlands, Norway, the United Kingdom and the U.S. Capgemini surveyed about 1,000 people in each country.
The survey was taken in April, meaning the countries surveyed all had extensive experience with COVID-19’s effects.
Among the results:
1. 35% of buyers worldwide are considering buying a car in 2020.
Buyers in China, where the pandemic struck first and may have been controlled best by strict social distancing and a near total quarantine in affected areas, were most optimistic, with 61% saying they were strongly considering or considering buying a new vehicle.
Italy, also hammered by the disease and subject to strict isolation rules, came in third with 43%.
The U.S. came in at 34%, almost dead on the global average, just behind Spain’s 36% and more optimistic than France, the U.K., Norway and Germany at 32%, 27% and 25%, respectively.
2. Public transportation and ride-hailing may suffer.
Globally, 46% said they’d be less likely to use public transportation in the future, compared with 33% who disagreed with the statement, "I will use public transport less often and take my own car more often."
Ride-hailing services like Lyft and Uber got hit nearly as badly as buses and subways, with 43% agreeing with, "I will prefer to use fewer ride hailing services (in the future) owing to health and safety concerns." At least 35% disagreed.
3. Public transport is even less popular in U.S.
Even more Americans, 51%, said they’d be less likely to use public transportation this year, rising to 53% in the future.
Ride-hailing services fared nearly as badly: 49% said they were less likely to use them this year and in the future.
4. Private vehicles are considered safer.
An overwhelming 75% of people said "greater control of hygiene in a vehicle I own" was one of the reason to buy a car. That placed it second only to needing a personal vehicle for their requirements, a sentiment about as inarguable as saying most people buy umbrellas to stay dry when it rains.
5. Visiting a dealership is as unpopular as an Uber driver with a cough.
In China and India, 71% and 70% of consumers wanted to compare financing and deals without gong to a dealership. The U.S. came in third at 49%.
"The ability to offer online purchasing will become the baseline expectation," Davenport said, suggesting a contactless customer experience.
"We’ve been making a slow transition to digital buying, now it’s going to be front and center."
Regardless of changes in sales techniques and customer preference, the survey doesn’t change the fact that the rest of 2020 will be challenging for auto sales. Globally, 49% of respondents said they are "not considering" or "strongly not considering" buying a car this year.
To respond, Capgemini recommends:
• Short-term subsidized leases and personalized social-media marketing for younger buyers
• Multiple payment models, including subscription, short-term leases and pay per use
• Emphasizing lower-priced options and health features
• Fewer models and options to simplify the supply chain
• Publicize dealerships’ health-related practices
• New features like HEPA filters, ionic air purifiers and air quality indicators
Globally, the median income of potential buyers — those considering or strongly considering a purchase — was about $60,000. They were above the national average in all countries surveyed except Italy, Spain and France.

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