Fully digital used car purchases have increased a whopping 16 times over the past eight months.
That’s according to research by temporary car insurance specialist Tempcover, which found that repeated changes to lockdown restrictions had fuelled a surge in fully digital or digitally assisted purchases.
Half of those taking part in its poll of 2,016 UK drivers towards the end of October said that before the spring lockdown they bought second-hand cars in person.
Forty-five per cent had combined online tools with viewing the car in person, and just four per cent had a fully digital purchase journey, only seeing their car in the metal after it’d been bought.
Since the start of the pandemic, though, 17 per cent had bought a used car, with almost two-thirds of them – 64 per cent – going for the total digital experience.
Digitally assisted purchases came in at 20 per cent, with physical transactions at 15 per cent.
Asked if a fully digital purchase journey would help consumers, 57 per cent of those surveyed were in favour.
Tempcover said that although used car sales were down on last year’s figures, and with 42 per cent of survey participants not planning on changing their car soon, it still clearly showed the rise of the digital dealership in the UK with more and more players.
Since lockdown, there has been significant investment in new market entrants such as Cinch and Carwow, it said.
What’s more, traditional dealerships such as Arnold Clark, Cargiant and Motorpoint had adapted to the shift in consumer trends and now offered an entirely digital purchase journey.
Arnold Clark finance director Jim Graham said that since the March lockdown, car retailers had had to adapt quickly to survive.
‘The automotive industry has changed dramatically in 2020. Even just a year ago, the opportunities to buy a car online were virtually non-existent.’
He added: ‘Despite the challenges the industry is facing, it’s important to keep customers safe and also offer them a seamless digital buying experience with a choice of handover options, including contactless click-and-collect and free home delivery.’
Car insurance is also undergoing a digital shift, with some digital vehicle sales including temporary insurance policies. However, just six per cent of those surveyed said a temporary policy was included in the sale.
Tempcover chief executive Alan Inskip said: ‘With a temporary insurance policy, drivers can obtain fully comprehensive cover in 90 seconds through an entirely digital process, which fits in line with the evolving consumer purchase trends.
‘This takes the stress out of searching for annual insurance on the spot and provides the driver with near-instant cover, so they can immediately drive their new car while giving them the opportunity to thoroughly research the best annual policy to suit their needs.
‘An added benefit is there’s no risk to any existing no claims discount, as it’s a separate and standalone policy.’