February’s Startline Used Car Tracker also reports that 35% are walking more, 19% are using other public transport such as buses and trams, 13% are using a traditional bicycle and 11% are travelling by electric bike.

Overall, two-thirds (67%) say that recent industrial action mean that they will use the train less in the future, though a significant minority remain committed to rail travel with 20% citing convenience and 16% like travelling by train.

Paul Burgess, CEO at Startline Motor Finance, said: “Despite longer journey times, hundreds of miles of roadworks resulting in congestion and traffic jams, our research suggests the rail strikes are convincing more people to travel by car. And, longer-term that can’t be a good thing for the economy.

“It would be worrying if rail-to-car switching by travellers develops into a long-term trend. This would obviously be bad news for clean air strategies in cities and for urban congestion in general. To us, these findings underline the need to resolve the rail dispute as soon as possible.”

Elsewhere in the Used Car Tracker research, highlights used car buyer preferences for fuel types, with petrol up seven percentage points to 40% over the last six months and electric falling nine percentage points to 14% over the same period.

Paul said: “This is an interesting trend because electric used cars have been falling in price recently and are arguably starting to represent much-improved value. Added to this is the well-publicised new car price adjustment by Tesla. Our best guess, based on feedback from dealers and customers, is that people are wary of adopting the new technology at a time when their personal finances are under pressure.”

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The impact of the current economic crisis on used car buyers is also clearly visible in this month’s research. Factors influencing car buying decisions include running costs, which was the top answer at 69% and up 10 percentage points over the last six months. The cost of living was second at 66%, followed by inflation at 41% and job security at 18%.

Paul said: “We know that dealers are stocking increased numbers of cars that are cheaper to buy and to run, and it’s clear they are doing this in response to changes in what people are looking for when they buy a used car. Increasingly, it’s about making sure that the cost of purchasing the vehicle and keeping it on the road is kept at a level where people feel comfortable.”

The Startline Used Car Tracker is compiled monthly for Startline Motor Finance by APD Global Research, well-known in the motor industry for their business intelligence reporting and customer experience programs. This time, 306 consumers and 51 dealers were questioned.

Startline Used Car Tracker

The Startline Used Car Tracker was launched in April 2022 to produce essential attitudinal data about the used car sector over time. Each month, it asks consumers about their propensity to buy, fuel choices and the factors that will affect used car purchases, as well as questioning dealers about their feelings regarding the prospects of the market, the challenges facing them and their online offering.

The research is carried out for Startline by APD Global Research.

The company is headquartered in Glasgow where it employs more than 170 people.

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