Fall in “desire for car ownership” is growing future issue, dealers say in new Startline research

21 Sep 2022

A reduction in desire for car ownership is a growing issue, according to dealers surveyed in September’s Startline Used Car Tracker.

Each month, the research asks used car retailers about the future challenges facing their sector and this factor has jumped to second place since last month, being named by 42% of respondents against 18% in August.


Paul Burgess, CEO at Startline Motor Finance, said: “This is an interesting point from the Tracker research. We are hearing limited anecdotal feedback in the market that in direct response to the cost of living crisis, some families who previously owned two cars are making savings by cutting back to one. Plus, there are undoubtedly other people who are selling their only car when faced with spiralling living costs.


“This may explain why dealers feel that, in the current climate, there are simply fewer people who want to own a car. However, these are almost certainly relatively small numbers, otherwise the trend would be much more visible in market information regularly provided by the usual sources.


“It’s important to remember that the Tracker research is designed to monitor sentiment rather than represent what is actually happening in the market and this is probably one of those moments when we are seeing a concern being expressed based on a few instances, rather than the first sign of a major trend.”


Other factors named as future challenges by dealers include stock availability (65% - down 11% on August), concerns over ICE vehicle values (42% - up 4%), finance availability (36% - down 10%) and increasing compliance requirements (22% - down 12%).


Paul said: “While it remains the top answer to this question, it’s good news to see that dealers believe that stock availability is likely to be easing. While I don’t think anyone expects major improvements in this area, even small movements are very much welcome.


“The changeover to EVs is also clearly playing on the minds of dealers in terms of future ICE RVs. However, our view is that the electrification of the market is likely to be relatively gradual and there will not be a moment when petrol and diesel cars suddenly decline in value.


“Finally, it is interesting that concern over finance availability is improving. Worrying about motor finance companies tightening their lending criteria when heading into what is probably going to be a recession is understandable but perhaps the situation isn’t proving as difficult as some dealers have anticipated.”