Up to one in five people who recently purchased a used car were motivated by not wanting to use public transport, according to research from digital car sale platform Dealer Auction, which launched in 2019.

Dealers were asked about the motivations of their current customers, and 20% cited wishing to move away from public transport as their main reason for wanting a car.

Dealer Auction chief executive, Le Etta Pearce, said: “The public’s move away from trains and buses during the early stages of the pandemic was no surprise, but it was interesting to see the popularity of used cars following the first lockdown, indicating that customers are potentially looking to move away from public transport long-term. This could represent an opportunity for dealers.

“Understanding buyers’ motivations and using real-time market data is going to be key in equipping dealers to jump on new opportunities by adapting to the shifts in customer habits.”

The research was part of a wider survey looking at dealers’ ‘lockdown habits’, as well as which habits they kept after reopening in April. One of the focuses of this research was what was important to drivers.

In the company’s Sentiment Survey from June 2021, the biggest motivation was simply wanting a different vehicle, which made up 57% of customers. Other reasons included car sharers wanting their own vehicle (5%), new drivers recently passing tests (5%) and needing a car suitable for UK holidays (7%).

Pearce added: “The current situation has made us focus on what’s really important. The ‘value’ of having a car has shifted. Customers are becoming drawn towards brands that reflect their lifestyle choices – so this is a chance for used car dealers to promote the way of life and overall well-being that comes with owning a vehicle, rather than focusing on the ‘hard sell’.”