Ex-public transport travellers could create new sector of used car market, says Startline

11 May 2020

Users of public transport who are nervous about the risk of coronavirus on buses and trains could effectively create a new sector of the used car market, says Startline Motor Finance.

CEO Paul Burgess pointed to a recent survey from IPSOS MORI indicating that 61% of people would be nervous about using public transport as they started to return to work.


“Whether they use masks or other PPE, there is going to be a proportion of people who, understandably, are unhappy about the risks associated with using public transport over the coming months or weeks but still need to get to work.


“Anecdotally, we are starting to hear stories of some of those people approaching dealers to instead buy cars as an alternative because it provides them with a clean, sealed, personal space in which to travel. The prime minister even mentioned cars as a preferred mode of transport in his weekend address.


“There are, of course, questions around this, if it does emerge as a trend, such as where those vehicles will be parked for city centre workers? However, even if there is only quite a small percentage shift out of trains and buses into cars, that represents a sizeable emerging used car market.”


Paul added that it would probably be a mistake to consider that these new buyers would only be interested in vehicles at the lower end of the market.


“All kinds of people with all kinds of incomes use public transport, especially in major cities. Initially, when this new market was first discussed a month or two ago, there was a probably an assumption that buyers would be looking for cheap cars as a stop-gap measure. However, our feeling is that it is now clear to people in general that coronavirus isn’t going away quickly, and that the sweet spot for this market will therefore be higher.


“From conversations we are having with dealers and others, we believe that the core market is likely to be superminis in the £5-8K bracket. Consumers are probably looking for relatively up-to-date, reliable and comfortable daily transport that fits in with any potential Clean Air Zone requirements.


“We’ve been giving some thought to how motor finance helps enable this, as you’d expect. Some of the key ideas are based around being able to arrive at a monthly payment that is comparable to what the average individual was paying for their public transport or even less, although this consideration may not be applicable to all buyers.”