Youngsters flock to driving as coronavirus restrictions get stricter

Time 12:05 pm, September 28, 2020

Youngsters are making a U-turn on shunning driving and are searching for cars instead, new data reveals.

Auto Trader has has found a sharp year-on-year increase of 18-24 year olds – or Gen-Z’ers – looking at cars onsite.

Gen-Z’ers have been branded as the least car-crazed generation in recent times.

But fears over using public transport may be pushing the age group into driving and purchasing cars.

Between June 1 and September 20, 15 per cent of the platform’s audience were aged 18-24 – equating to 5.7m people – compared to just six per cent in the same period last year.

More than a quarter (27 per cent) of Auto Trader’s current audience are aged 25-34 years old.

This increased desire to buy a car in light of the current pandemic is mirrored in the number of people now wanting to learn how to drive.

Driving school RED has reported a huge surge in demand for driving lessons.

New learner activity on its website is over 100 per cent higher than the same time last year.

In the past four weeks alone, RED had 43,664 enquiries, compared to 17,500 for the same period last year, showing a 40 per cent increase.

The average age of those passing their driving test in the UK is 23.73, according to the Department for Transport and DVLA.

Smaller cars are increasing in desirability while hatchbacks recorded the largest average price growth last week, says Auto Trader, increasing 11.5 per cent for the same period last year.

Auto Trader’s Rory Reid said: ‘The pandemic has shifted young people’s views of car ownership and gotten them to hit the road earlier than usual, as they look to rely less on public transport and try to minimise risk of spreading coronavirus.

‘This is great for the car industry overall as it opens up a new pool of buyers, and of course benefits the drivers themselves as they get far more freedom when travelling.

‘It’s a great time to buy a car, as there’s an enormous range of make/models available, including electric cars and hybrids – an important consideration for Gen-Z’ers who are looking for more environmentally friendly options.’

Ian McIntosh, RED’s CEO added: ‘Since driving lessons resumed in England on July 4, we have seen an unprecedented numbers of new customers wishing to learn to drive with RED.

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‘I’m pleased to say that we now have more than 1,400 driving instructors on the roads across the UK and they are flat-out working to meet this new demand which has come from the backlog of created by lockdown and a new wave of learners who are keen to get behind the wheel in order to minimise their time spent on public transport.’

Last week’s announcement by Boris Johnson isn’t deterring the UK public overall from buying their next car as further restrictions don’t impact car dealerships.

As reported by Car Dealer, Auto Trader has found over 61 per cent of car buyers said the government’s decision will not impact their decision to buy a car. The announcement has actually accelerated the purchase for some (four per cent).

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. In October 2021 he became Car Dealer's associate editor.

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