LONDON, England – Brexit, the British plan to quit the European Union trade grouping, is suddenly biting harder into potential car-buyers’ confidence with almost half now delaying the purchase for at least two years.
The number of people in the UK planning to change their car sooner has plunged to a record low.
Motor retail online specialist BuyaCar.co.uk has been monitoring car-buyers’ intentions ever since Britons’ historic referendum which leaned towards quitting the EU in 2016. At that time 20% of potential buyers said they were planning to change their car in the then next three months.
Today (March 2019) those figures have dramatically reversed: 47.5% say they’re not planning to change their car for at least two years and only 4.8% intending to buy in the next three months.*
FALL RAPID SINCE 2016
Brexit uncertainty has been blamed for a host of problems besetting the British car market since 2016, with the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders recently saying “UK automotive is on red alert” over the prospects of Britain leaving the EU without a deal.
New-car registrations in the UK have fallen rapidly since 2016 but used sales have remained strong. Much of the blame has been pinned on non-Brexit issues with diesel car sales suffering most due to measures designed to curb city pollution along with a series of scandals over vehicle emissions testing.
Declining sales have rarely been directly blamed on a Brexit-related reduction in consumer confidence but these latest figures, the online site says, ”suggest consumers are beginning to hold back on buying used, too.
Three months after the Brexit referendum only 6% of potential buyers said they ”preferred to wait and see what happens with Brexit” before committing to change their car.**
MORE VOTING STILL TO BE DONE
Today that figure has risen to 10% but the most dramatic change has been the plunge from 20% to 4.8% of buyers ready to change within next three months. Coupled with the near doubling of people who plan to hang on to their car until at least 2021 these figures spell a tough future for automakers.
Austin Collins, BuyaCar.co.uk’s MD, said: “Even as we announce these figures it’s against the backdrop of another series of parliamentary votes that seem to take us no further forward in understanding how Brexit will affect everybody. We believe it is this continued uncertainty rather than the idea of Brexit itself that has finally made consumers err on the side of caution.’
“When we first began measuring sentiment about Brexit it was clear that a huge majority of car-buyers weren’t worried and that was reflected in the large number who were intending to start shopping for a car in the next few months. Now that figure has plummeted from 20% to less than five per cent as people wait to understand what Brexit looks like, comes as little surprise.’
“Against a wider backdrop of industry concern over future tariffs, supply chains, and other issues affecting automakers and retail the news that consumers are suddenly wary about committing to their next car purchase can only add to those headaches.”
* Research conducted among 610 consumers by BuyaCar.co.uk during February/March 2019.
** Research conducted among 934 consumers by BuyaCar.co.uk during September/October 2016.