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October 19, 2021updated 20 Oct 2021 10:26am

Covid-19 shifts car-buying habits towards bigger models: VWFS

By Alejandro Gonzalez

Bigger cars – such as the ŠKODA KAROQ – have become more popular in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, new research by Volkswagen Financial Services UK (VWFS) has revealed.

Data released by VWFS shows that more people are buying used Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) in 2021 than in 2018, whilst smaller used models have fallen in demand during the same period.

Specifically, finance cases for used medium-sized SUVs such as the SEAT Ateca, ŠKODA KAROQ, Audi Q3 and Volkswagen Tiguan have risen 8 per cent over three years, VWFS said in a press release. 

However, demand for smaller models has fallen by 34 per cent during the same three-year timeframe.

The ŠKODA KAROQ is the model that has seen the biggest growth between 2018 and 2021, with finance cases for used models almost quadrupling since 2018.

Volkswagen Financial Services UK’s data insights team suggest the research illustrates a definitive shift in the UK’s used car buying habits, with people choosing to buy bigger models as a result of changes brought about by the pandemic.

For example, research from Volkswagen Financial Services UK earlier this year (according to data collected between 2-6 April) found that 76 per cent of people in Britain (based on 2,005 respondents) are more likely to travel in their own vehicle as opposed to getting public transport due to Covid-19.

According to the study, six in ten (60 per cent) people also agreed that their private vehicles have risen in importance since the pandemic.

And with hybrid working being implemented by many businesses this autumn and employees beginning to commute into the office once again, the Volkswagen Financial Services UK data also suggests that people may want bigger cars because they are driving more miles instead of relying on public transport.

Another possible explanation for the rising popularity of SUVs is that staycations have become far more common over the past 18 months – a trend that is likely to continue with overseas travel less straightforward than before.

Across the used car market as a whole, the latest figures released by Auto Trader UK show that the used car market continues to go from strength to strength, with used prices continuing to hit new heights – increasing by 21.4 per cent in September, which is the biggest monthly increase ever recorded (up from 17.2% in August).

Used cars are currently in extraordinarily high demand due to a global shortage of semiconductors, which are needed for the production of new cars. In turn, this has significantly reduced the number of new vehicles available for buyers and inflated used car prices.

Dealerships accelerate digital activity as restrictions begin to ease

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