Startline Motor Finance registers its busiest single day ever for new proposals, indicating consumer appetite for motor finance remains undeterred by new lockdown restrictions.

Despite indication that the used car market continued to suffer, the quantity of business written so far this year is greater than that of the same period in 2020.

Paul Burgess, chief executive of Startline, said: “We are starting to see reports that the overall used car market is about 50% down but our experience is that different dealers are having very different experiences. Some are doing much better than others.”

According to Burgess, there is a possibility that some deals being written are “being carried over from the pre-lockdown period”.

Anecdotally, however, Burgess believes a strong number of people are continuing to purchase used cars, capitalising on the click-and-collect processes put in place by many dealers since the start of the pandemic.

Emphasising the importance of digitalisation across the sector, Burgess continued: “It’s not a magic wand to have a strong online process but without one, it is next to impossible for most dealers to trade successfully at the moment.

“Importantly, we believe that the quality of the online journey being created is becoming more important. Once a customer has decided to buy a car, the entire purchasing process including motor finance has to be as painless as possible. No-one wants to spend hours filling in online forms. Everything needs to be fast and slick.”

Looking forward, Burgess speculates over whether consumer demand for motor finance will continue on its current trajectory: “The question is whether consumer appetites for buying used cars will diminish and obviously the lockdown doesn’t help but the effects of the pandemic on the finances of individuals have, so far, been extremely variable. Some have been hit hard, others not at all.

“It’s important to make it as easy as possible for those people who have disposable income and a desire to buy a car to complete their purchase.”

This year, a significant percentage of Startline’s efforts had centred on meeting the needs of customers whose finances had been impacted by the pandemic. Such an approach has paid off as the firm recorded a 20% increase in turnover this year when compared to 2019.