Coronavirus has affected the car buying process but consumers are embracing online tools
Coronavirus has affected the car buying process but consumers are embracing online tools

Carzone has carried out some new research on how Coronavirus is affecting car buyers in Ireland. Their headline findings show that 25% of Irish consumers are still looking to change their car despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

The motor industry in Ireland, like our European neighbours, has been severely affected since March. Restrictions on movement, social distancing measures and the closure of non-essential businesses have changed our lives and our spending. Car dealerships were eventually closed at the end of March. While dealers report being ‘open’ for enquiries via phone and email, their way of business has been turned on its head. We reported earlier in the month how new car registrations dropped by 63% in March 2020 year on year.

64% of respondents say that they are delaying the purchase of a car until restrictions are eased. 11% have cancelled their search for a new vehicle as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

Not surprisingly, attention turns to digital as people find themselves at home and online. The Carzone report found that car buyers are now more open to using digital tools to help move them along the car buying process while social distancing measures are in place. As a result of social distancing, the process of buying a car has had to change. The research indicates that this change could be here to stay as consumers are willing to use online tools and transaction models to progress their car buying journey.

The research also examines the stage at which respondents are at in the car buying process. Almost half (46%) are in the early research phase, 38% are still looking for the best deal and 16% are ready to purchase a car. Carzone says this data shows that car buyers are continuing to research their options, and advertising vehicles online can still be effective. Buyers can digitally shop around and research their options despite current restrictions.

The study also found that car buyers are more open to using digital tools as a means of research while social distancing is in place. Just under half (49%) of respondents say a virtual video tour of a vehicle would be very useful. 21% say they would avail of live chat tools with dealers to help progress the process. Other useful services car buyers’ reference are online car finance applications (17%) and a straightforward call with a dealer (13%). With all of this to assist, 30% of respondents say they would reserve a car now to collect it when restrictions are lifted.

Commenting on the findings, Karl Connolly, Audience Manager at Carzone, said:

“The COVID-19 crisis has meant consumers are changing their behaviour to adapt to this situation and car buyers have become more open to using online services as a means to research their next car. We have also observed a change in the way sellers are using the platform to advertise their cars. As well as an increase in the number of video car tours uploaded on the site, we found dealers and their potential customers are communicating more than before using our live chat functions. It’s great to see that consumers are still researching cars and engaging with dealers on Carzone.”