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Britain Under the Bonnet 2019

Our Britain Under the Bonnet report is based on a survey, which collected the feedback of over 200 UK car dealers and 2,000 UK drivers, monitoring shifts in consumer behaviour and insights on the automotive industry.

2020 report coming soon!

Britain Under the Bonnet

What is Britain Under the Bonnet?

In the third year of our Britain Under the Bonnet report, we wanted to drill into the impact of a time of unprecedented change for the automotive industry. This year's report is broken down into six sections:

  1. The big swing from new to used
  2. The evolution of car ownership
  3. Shifting consumer behaviour
  4. View from the forecourt
  5. 2019 - the year alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) go mainstream?
  6. The way forward

The way forward

Key take-outs for dealers:

Car icon image for the way forward 1

The used car market is likely to fare better than new in 2019.

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Ensuring women feel comfortable shopping on the forecourt is a real sale opportunity.

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The gradual shift from ownership to usership has started.

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This could be the year when electric vehicles go mainstream

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The dip in demand for diesels will continue, as concern about fuel type rises.

Car icon image for weight – up to 3.5t

Customers are researching further and wider than ever to find the best deal.

new to used

The big swing from new to used

The automotive industry has been hit by a global slowdown, confusion over fuel types and uncertainty about the effects of Brexit. Last year, the demand for new cars was just higher than the demand for used. This year, the balance has tipped in favour of used cars.

Brexit has dominated the headlines and will continue to for some time, but it is only one factor alongside a maze of policy related to the motor trade creating confusion in the marketplace, and dipping consumer confidence.

car ownership

The evolution of car ownership

Increasingly, we are living our lives through monthly subscriptions. For older generations, outright ownership was the norm. For the generations now coming through, the world has changed.

Overall, the proportion of people using Hire Purchase (HP), Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) and/or Personal Contract Hire (PCH) to finance their car purchases has risen by 3-4% in 2018. 57% of 16-24 year olds intend to purchase their next car using some sort of finance or lease. 

Consumer behaviour

Shifting consumer behaviour

Fuel type now ranks second in the list of considerations for car buyers, taking over from how economical a car is to run. 

Customers continue to look further and wider to ensure they are getting a good deal, turning to the internet as the most-used resource for researching their purchases. Yet, the value placed on dealer advice is still sky-high. 

More needs to be done, however, to support female car buyers.


The view from the forecourt

For the second year in a row, 95% of dealers were either confident, or very confident, in their outlook for 2019, despite uncertainty in the wider economy.

However, some headaches appear to have worsened in the past 12 months. 35% now see Brexit as a threat, up from 26%, and legislation and regulation is posing a problem for twice as many dealers as before.


2019 - the year when alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs) go mainstream?

While sales are not yet living up to the media hype around green vehicles, there are signs that we’re about to reach the tipping point. With consumer interest growing, and investment in the infrastructure continuing, we could be months, not years, from the point when AFVs become part of the norm. 

Meanwhile, the Government’s ultra-simplified, blanket messaging gives diesel drivers a headache.

Report methodology

Report methodology 

The figures in this report are based on Close Brothers Motor Finance’s own data, a telephone survey of over 200 UK car dealers undertaken between September and October 2018, and a consumer survey of over 2,000 UK drivers, weighted to be nationally representative. The survey was conducted in November 2018 by Censuswide. All statistics in the report, unless stated otherwise, are taken from the aforementioned sources.