Customers around the world shun public transport with 1 in 2 intending to buy a new car in next 12 months

Time 5 months ago

Some 87 per cent of consumers around the world are shunning public and shared modes of transport and would prefer to have their own vehicle, while almost half of customers intend to buy a new car in the next 12 months.

Those are headline findings from Capgemini’s latest report examining consumers’ car purchasing behaviours across the globe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Popular trends before Covid-19 such as using public and shared modes of transport are in reverse gear, as people are turning to the ‘safety’ of personal transport.

Capgemini’s report – ‘Shifting Gears: Covid-19 and the fast-changing automotive consumer’ – quizzed 11,000 consumers from 11 countries during October and November 2020, with those countries representing 62 per cent of global annual passenger vehicle sales in 2019.

Of the people surveyed, 87 per cent of people stated their safety and physical well-being, alongside that of their families, is best served through a personal vehicle.

Some 81 per cent said they will avoid using car-pool services owing to health and safety concerns, compared with just 42 per cent in April 2020.

Meanwhile, 78 per cent of consumers will opt for using their personal vehicles over taking public transport.


The findings back up observations made by the motor trade and told to Car Dealer last year.

During summer 2020, used cars values were at record levels with some months enjoying double digit growths.

These rises were fuelled by people turning their backs on public transport and wanting to opt for the relative safety of personal transport, with values for used cars 10-years-and-older being particularly high.

Capgemini’s report said this shift in consumer behaviour is likely to translate into vehicle sales, with almost 72 per cent of consumers stating that they value constant access to a private vehicle more than before the pandemic.

Capgemini said this shift is likely to translate into vehicle sales, with almost 72 per cent of consumers stating that they value constant access to a private vehicle more than before the pandemic.

Youngsters most likely to buy

In its report, Capgemini said purchase intent has grown across the world in all markets, and is being driven by a combination of low-cost finance and loans, government incentives for EVs and pent-up demand – on top of the desire to avoid car sharing and public transport.

Leading the trend are younger consumers aged between 18 and 35, with 59 per cent considering purchasing a car in the next 12 months compared with 46 per cent across all age groups.

However, just over half (56 per cent) of those considering buying a car have downgraded their desires from last year, with a preference for utility and functionality over the aspirational value of the car.

As a result, Capgemini reckons competition could heat up in small and entry-level vehicle segments.

The company also identified a small but sizeable segment of buyers (21 per cent) willing to pay more for premium features, such as extra space, connected services and voice-based controls.

That could be news for some car makers and dealers as selling options could give welcome margins in a sector that’s traditionally hard to make a profit.

Importance of digital interactions growing

On a wider level, Capgemini found nearly half (49 per cent) of consumers will only use online channels to find information on cars, compared with 39 per cent before Covid-19.

Meanwhile, interest in using augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR) technologies has surged with 85 per cent of respondents saying they prefer to use AR/VR tools to compare models, colours and features when picking a car.

However, car dealers remain very important in consumers’ minds – over seven in 10 prefer to visit a dealership for answers to specific questions before they buy, and will continue doing so once it is safe.

Meanwhile, 80 per cent prefer in-person interaction with a sales representative at a dealership when closing a purchase.

Customers desire hygienic features

Consumers’ tastes in desirable features has also shifted in the space of six months, the report found.

Some 85 per cent of consumers today want a car that offers air filters, ambient air quality indicators, health monitoring of passengers, and the use of sterilising UV LED lights, up from 49 per cent in April 2020.

Commenting on the report, Markus Winkler, executive vice president for Global Automotive, Capgemini, said: ‘The pandemic has increased consumer expectations around hygiene and wellness-related mobility features, along with the digitisation of the vehicle sales and aftersales process.

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‘The automotive industry has to adapt to these emerging needs. While the pandemic did affect short-term automotive demand, it has accelerated critical long-term trends: digitisation, electrification, and connected cars.

‘Companies that take the lead in these areas will emerge stronger when the crisis finally recedes. Automakers will need to develop engaging in-car experiences like in-vehicle connectivity and driver assistance features and think of new ways to incentivise and stimulate purchase demand.

‘By tapping into emerging micro markets with targeted offers, automotive brands will be able to reach whole new customer segments — much needed in their recovery.’

James Batchelor's avatar

James – or Batch as he’s known – started at Car Dealer in 2010, first as the work experience boy, eventually becoming editor in 2013. He worked for Auto Express as editor-at-large and was the face of Carbuyer’s YouTube reviews. In 2020, he went freelance and now writes for a number of national titles and contributes regularly to Car Dealer.

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