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A SURVEY by Gumtree Cars has indicated that the COVID-19 pandemic has not turned off the desire for people to buy cars and that large numbers of Australians still intend to proceed with their plans to replace their current vehicle.

The survey, which was conducted in Australia, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, also showed that Australian car buyers were the least put off from buying a car because of the pandemic.

The data, which was updated to May 18, showed that despite the disruption, 95 per cent  of Gumtree car buyers in Australia are still actively looking to purchase their next vehicle.

Whilst a small minority (13 per cent) are postponing their purchase, 87 per cent of car buyers intend to purchase a car between now and 3 months’ time.

Importantly, 67 per cent of car buyers indicated that they are not delaying their car purchase due to COVID-19. They are in the market right now.

The survey also highlighted that contactless trading protocols are the new normal.

Today’s buyers are now expecting COVID-19 safe protocols as the new way to trade and also believe they are here to stay.

Gumtree Cars intenders said that for dealers to attract them into a dealership they expect to see:

  • Clear dealership opening and service times
  • Sales follow up and quick response times
  • Appropriate appointment times, following social distancing rules
  • Practical video inspection capabilities and detailed photos

The survey also revealed that the reasons for buying a car have not shifted and 76 per cent of buyers said there was no change in their ‘reason for buying a car’.

The primary reason for purchase was: ‘to replace or upgrade their current vehicle’.

Other significant reasons cited for continuing their car purchase were: ‘looking for a specific car, collector car or hobby/project’; ‘I need a new car to perform essential tasks’ or ‘I have seen a car that really meets my needs and I don’t want to miss out on buying it’.

Richard Dicello

The data also revealed that dealers are finding more favour with car buyers and they are showing an increased preference for buying from a car dealership.

It said that Gumtree Cars buyers expressed a positive shift in buyer preference towards dealerships as a result of the COVID-19 crisis because they trust dealers to have in place sanitization procedures and social protocols.

The data suggested that to ensure dealerships are generating buyer confidence in transacting safely, car buyers are asking for:

  • Safe test drive options or remote inspection by a reliable 3rd party
  • Comprehensive car cleaning and disinfectant solutions.

Buyers also indicated they would like to see more attractive finance options and/or free return periods (e.g. 30 days).

With government restrictions easing, buyers who were postponing their purchase due to COVID-19 are now reviewing their concerns, the survey said.

It said that those who delayed their purchase during the pandemic lockdown did so because:

  • They were wanting to test drive their car of choice
  • They were concerned about non-essential travel rules
  • They were wanting to ask specific questions about the car in person.

The head of motors at Gumtree Cars,  Richard Dicello, told GoAutoNews Premium: “What stands out is that Australians have the greatest preference to buy immediately and the greatest preference to buy within the next three months. There is significant intent within the Australian market.  Typical Aussie spirit. They still want their car.  That is hugely encouraging for the dealers.

“What also stood out from the research was that buyers worried they would not be able to complete the transaction. This was a reason for delaying. So dealers who have a strong online presence and are able to make it clear that they are open and are able to still transact will have an advantage.”

Mr Dicello said some buyers were worried about whether they would be able to register the car they were buying.

“This seems strange but it showed strongly in the research: ‘Can I drive the car away?’ ‘Can you get it registered?’

“It was also important that dealers make clear they are providing a safe place with disinfection services in the dealership itself but there was also a desire to have a COVID-19-safe solo test drive. So people still want to go to the dealership for the experience but dealers need to make it clear that they offer a solo test drive.”

He said another factor showing up in all the research both here and overseas was an emerging desire for people to want a 30-day return policy.

“This policy started in the US with used cars in the late 1990s but it is an interesting trend we are seeing globally in our research and now it is coming out in the Australian survey.

“The other thing that stood out was the reason for buying a car in Australia had not been affected by the circumstances of the pandemic and it seems there is a feeling that things are returning to normal.”

Mr Dicello said that the dealers who were coming through the pandemic with better than expected trading results in sales and in service were the ones who are running a strong online presence and were ahead of the curve in creating a virtual online experience for the customer and making it clear the dealership is open for business and is a safe place to test and buy a car.

“We are also noticing a trend that people are increasingly favouring using a dealership to buy a car and this suggests that dealers really need to be on the front foot in getting appointments with customers. So the customer wants to know that the dealer wants to take them through the journey to getting a new car.That is what they are expecting.”

UK1 (Motors)
UK2 (Gumtree)
Belgium1 (dehands)
Belgium2 (ememain)
Canada1 (English)

Intention to buy (per cent)

Australia Germany UK1 UK2 Netherlands Belgium1 Belgium2 Canada1
Not postponing 67 59 38 50 42 35 35 48
Will buy when lockdown ends 10 15 17 25 12 36 29 15
Will buy 2-3 month after lockdown 11 6 21 14 11 10 14 14
Not certain anymore 13 20 24 11 35 19 23 23

By John Mellor

Dealer Auction