Exclusive: Covid-19 drives Londoners behind the wheel sooner than planned
London dwellers are now more likely to buy a car sooner than planned than in any other region of the UK as a result of Covid-19.
New figures from Close Brothers Motor Finance, shared exclusively with City A.M., show that over a fifth of Londoners – 21 per cent – are now more likely to buy a car sooner than they had previously planned.
That’s twice as high as the national average of 11 per cent, and the highest proportion of all the regions of the UK.
With people urged to avoid public transport as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the UK has seen a resurgence in private car use over the last 12 months.
Figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) show that while car use is at between 80-90 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, Tube use still remains below 30 per cent of “normal” levels.
Seán Kemple, managing director of Close Brothers Motor Finance, told City A.M. that Londoners were now turning their back on Tube and bus travel.
“One of the most significant impacts of the pandemic for the motor industry is that it’s triggered a change in consumer sentiment toward car ownership”, he said.
“Many people have experienced increased reticence to use public transport as a result of Covid-19, and this is evidently the case in London – as a city usually heaving with commuters, Londoners are now bucking the trend and turning to car-buying instead.”
The figures, from Close Brothers annual motor finance report, show that young people around the UK are now also more likely to have brought forward plans to buy a car.
A quarter of 17-25 year olds now plan to buy a car sooner than they had previously planned, more than double the national average.
The same demographic also leads in terms of intentions to drive more in 2021, with 65 per cent of the age bracket saying they will use their car more due to the pandemic.
For the country as a whole, the figure falls to 37 per cent. As well as general reticence towards using public transport, drivers cited using their cars more due to working from home and looking after elderly relatives as the main reasons for driving more.