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New and used cars neck and neck in race for consumer preference

19 September 2018


The competition between new and used cars is heating up, with only a 1% difference in customer preference according to the Britain Under the Bonnet report from Close Brothers Motor Finance. 

The report findings show that 41% of consumers will opt for a second-hand car as their next vehicle purchase, while 42% intend on buying a new one. Around one in five (17%) say they are undecided on what to purchase next. 

When comparing these findings to 2017, the number of people who intend on purchasing a new car is down by 5%. Those who plan on buying a used car has jumped by 21%. This is reflected in the latest used car statistics  from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which showed that the used car market had a strong second quarter, with over 2 million used cars sold. 

There is also a clear divide in attitudes towards new and used cars across UK regions. Those in the East Midlands (29%) are the least likely to purchase a new car compared to a used one (53%). In comparison, those based in London/Greater London are most likely to purchase a new car (64%), they are also one of the least likely groups to purchase a second-hand vehicle (27%). 

SMMT aug 2018

There’s also a clear gender difference when it comes to the attitudes when it comes to new and used cars. Half of men (49%) opt for a new car as their next vehicle purchase, compared to just a third (35%) of women. Whereas almost half (47%) of females intend on purchasing a used vehicle, compared to just over a third (35%) of men. 

According to the findings, the most popular type of car purchase is petrol (40%), followed by hybrid (16%), diesel (13%) and electric (8%). In contrast, 14% of Brits are still undecided and 7% say they’re not sure because the options are too confusing.

Sean Kemple, Director of Sales, Close Brothers Motor Finance, commented: “While new and used cars are neck and neck, used cars have the slight edge highlighting that the desire for new vehicles still exists - but only just. This is something that had been widely predicted to happen. Earlier this year we saw the UK’s six-year ‘golden period’ of new car sales coming to an end as it hit an inflection point, resulting in a gradual consumer shift from new to old vehicles.

“With five years of consecutive year on-year growth, and a record number of new cars on the road, a natural consequence was the greater availability of ‘nearly- new’-used vehicles. If the decline in new car sales is expected to continue in the months ahead, it would seem only natural that many consumers would flock instead to the excess of “nearly-new” used vehicles available on the market.”

The Britain Under the Bonnet report looks at consumers’ attitudes and car buying behaviours – along with views from dealerships across the country – to give a comprehensive view of the UK’s automotive sphere.  

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