New car registration figures may have fallen by more than a third last month, but carwow says volumes of quotes and inquiries on its platform continued to match – and sometimes exceed – pre-Covid-19 figures.
Chief executive James Hind, pictured, said: ‘Since dealerships in England opened on June 1, we have seen a sustained increase in quotes and inquiries, translating into sales, demonstrating that buyers are coming to market with an intent to purchase.
‘Indeed, June saw some of our busiest days for sales this year, with some reaching higher than those recorded before the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic had hit most UK homes.
‘Although we’ve not relived the spike in inquiries we witnessed in the first week of June – the highest level in 2020 to date and representative of the pent-up demand – the stability of the general upward trend in inquiries suggests that appetite to buy is very real, as our sales figures show.’
A lockdown poll of 500 consumers by the online marketplace revealed that 75 per cent of people wouldn’t feel safe on buses and trains until a vaccine was discovered, indicating a preference for personal modes of transport – at least for the foreseeable future.
This could be bolstering interest from buyers looking to upgrade their existing vehicle or invest in a new car for the first time, it said, with the highest level of inquiries in the week after English dealerships reopened originating in London.
Hind added: ‘It’s clear that consumer confidence is buoyed by the easing of lockdown, and those dealers that were quick to adapt both physically and digitally during that time have been well placed to make the most of this.’
But he warned: ‘The longer-term picture is impossible to predict as the UK works its way to creating a new normal, and we believe government support is vital to keep the automotive industry on the right trajectory.’
Before the pandemic, carwow saw buyer interest in battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) growing exponentially, with February registering a 243 per cent year-on-year increase in BEV inquiries. However, its configurations for alternative fuelled vehicles (AFVs) slowed once the UK went into lockdown – witnessed as well in its German market.
With the ease of lockdown, traffic to carwow.de bounced back but electric car interest was sluggish, it said. Intervention by the German government and a subsidy boost on June 4 heralded an overnight improvement, though, with inquiries in Germany for electric cars almost back to pre-lockdown levels and AFVs in general now making up 49 per cent of all configurations.
Hind said: ‘Whilst scrappage seems to have been ruled out, there have been whispers of a VAT cut, and we would expect a move like that to have a powerful, positive impact.
‘That said, it’s heartening to see the short-term landscape is much brighter than anticipated, and we are working closely with our dealer community to support them in maximising opportunities.’
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