I’m always interested in timely insights about what motivates customers to choose their cars, especially used cars. The Motor Ombudsman has just published such information based on a sample of 2,050 UK adults with a driving licence, aged 17+. The data was collected between 16th and 20th February 2024.

The importance of bricks & mortar dealers

Peace of mind when buying a used car is important; from a consumer protection and aftersales perspective, a physical dealership offers this over a private sale. The Motor Ombudsman’s research supports this:

  • 48% of respondents looking to buy a used car stated that going to an established bricks-and-mortar seller reassured them that a car had likely undergone rigorous checks before going on sale.
  • Furthermore, 43% of survey participants wanted a safety net if something went wrong with their car after they bought it, as they would have more legal rights than if they had sourced the vehicle via a private seller.
  • 38% would prefer to visit a showroom for the greater opportunity to view and understand a car’s provenance, i.e. the history, including its servicing record and accompanying documentation, before purchase.
  • 34% said that they would often be able to purchase an extended warranty agreement to help safeguard them from the burden of costly mechanical or electrical failures, should these occur later down the line.
  • However, only a third of survey participants cited that they would steer away from a private individual.

The support for dealers is good but does point to an opportunity for dealers to enhance the peace of mind message, promote how long they have been in business, awards won, local community engagement, and added-value peace of mind products, such as extended warranties. Promoting cars leads the way in their online presence, but I wonder if promoting these other attributes could help add additional reassurance value. Based on this latest research, I’m pretty sure it would help.

Fuel type selection

I found this fascinating.

For respondents who would opt for a used car this year, here is the expected fuel type they expect to choose:

  • Petrol car: 45.6%
  • Hybrid car: 26.2%
  • Diesel car: 16.9%
  • Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV): 10.2%

While petrol leads the way, that hybrids outrank diesel so significantly and that one in ten buyers will be in the market for a BEV shows a clear trajectory; after all, last year, BEVs accounted for just 1% of used sales.

The key takeaway is that whatever your view on BEVs, they will become a prominent part of the used car mix very rapidly. If 10% of all used cars sold this year are BEVs (and this would represent incredible year-on-year growth), then stocking them will make perfect sense.

Debbie McKay, Commercial Sales Director

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