Consumers’ relationships with their cars have become more functional than emotional, research by Intelligent Environments (IE) has found.

As an example of this, just 20% said they gave their current vehicle a nickname. Instead, 38% called their car ‘nothing more than a machine.’

Similarly, 55% of respondents said they’d trade in their car for an upgrade at the first opportunity.

Commenting on the research, IE said this changing attitude had stemmed from a rise in demand for monthly rental options, with over a quarter (26%) of consumers having leased a car rather than buying one outright.

Opportunity for finance

The research also found that ‘monthly payments’ was the top factor in the buying decision when purchasing a vehicle, above brand, model, or aesthetics.

This has led to an increased understanding of financial products. Despite concerns around the complexity of the likes of PCP and PCH, the research found over half (56%) felt they understood the difference between Hire Purchase, PCP and PCH.

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With finance now at the heart of the buying decision, IE said there is a significant opportunity for the vehicle financing industry to seize a bigger influence in the market.

David Webber, managing director of Intelligent Environments, said: “In today’s digital world and gig economy consumers are becoming less attached to owning their belongings. The rise of streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify, as well as the rising number of renters, has profoundly changed the way we view ownership. Now, it seems our relationship with our vehicle is following the same route.

“It’s no surprise therefore that people are leasing more than buying their vehicles outright. However, financial services providers need to prepare for this and improve their offering when it comes to their finance application processes, ensuring consumers go to them and not to their competitors. Consumers are used to doing everything digitally these days, and car finance providers should look to implement strong simple, digital and transparent processes where they can to stay ahead of the game.”