Around half (49%) of UK consumers are showing a growing preference for car subscription services over traditional car buying and financing alternatives, a recent survey by PwC UK indicates.

Car subscription models allow drivers to pay reduced upfront fees and opt for shorter-term commitments with the convenience of easy cancellation or model switching. 

PwC performed an online poll of 2,526 UK customers from 25 September to 13 October 2023, to examine market demand for car subscription services.

The findings revealed that 44% of consumers planning to acquire a car in the next five years are considering subscription services as a viable alternative to traditional purchasing or leasing options.

Additionally, 5% of respondents who are not currently in the market for a new vehicle, showed interest in the subscription model.

The survey also highlighted that the car subscription market could expand to include 1% of consumers who do not own a car and have no plans to purchase one but are interested in accessing a vehicle through a subscription service. 

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According to the research, age is a significant factor in the interest in car subscription services.

For premium and luxury brands, 85% of the anticipated demand comes from customers aged between 18 and 44 years.

Volume brands also see a majority of interest, around 61%, from this younger demographic.

Meanwhile, consumer motivations for choosing car subscription services fell into three categories, including ‘vehicle explorers’, accounting for 38%, who are attracted to the flexibility of accessing new or better cars without long-term commitments.

‘Conscious budgeters’, making up a third of the respondents, prefer an all-inclusive package with a fixed monthly fee.

The remaining 29% are drawn to the value and convenience of commitment-light options that alleviate concerns over depreciation and battery life.

PwC automotive practice director Akshara Chandhok said: “The clear conclusion from our survey is that front-runners have a chance to set the pace and seize market share as subscription takes hold. Companies that fail to offer this option are at risk of losing out, especially now that many carmakers are moving towards EV-only output.”