Lockdown has had a dramatic effect on the wider economy, with GDP contracting by an astonishing 20.4% in April. But this contraction has not been evenly distributed. Some sectors, like e-commerce and logistics, have enjoyed increased demand. Others, like the automotive sector, have endured a protracted slump. Sales of petrol and diesel vehicles slumped by 90% in May, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders. Brits buy around 2 million new cars every year, of which around 1.5 million are made domestically. The health of the industry, then, has historically been indicative of the health of the economy as a whole.
All of this has marked consequences for those looking to buy or sell motor vehicles after the lockdown has lifted. If you’re a buyer, then how do you go about picking up a bargain?
What to Expect from Sellers
Sellers will have gone to considerable lengths to limit the risk of contagion in the showrooms, largely because they understand that shoppers will expect it. The footfall is expected to be very small, at least at first. When the economic future is uncertain, major investments tend to be the first to be cut – and investments don’t come much more major than a new car. As such, you might find that you benefit from greater leverage as a buyer, and that those deals are more forthcoming. Be sure to also factor in the cost of any other financial products you want to give you peace of mind. GAP insurance, for example, will cover the cost of the car when it was new, rather than its value at the time of a claim – potentially saving you thousands in the event of a collision.
Buying a car online
Online sales will almost certainly represent a heftier fraction of overall vehicles sold in this country. Click and collect is sure to become more popular as a means of purchase, in spite of the limitations it places on the buyer’s ability to test and examine the car. Many manufacturers, like Peugeot and Tesla, already had quite sophisticated apps in place, which allowed the viewing of cars in detail before a purchase anyway.
When buying privately, it’s important to take anti-contagion precautions. Lockdown fatigue might mean that your alertness has fallen a little bit, but when you’re meeting strangers, it’s particularly important to be conscious of what you’re touching and who you’re breathing on.
Things to consider
Booking test drives online is still worthwhile, as the salesperson should take every precaution to ensure that they aren’t contagious. If you are buying privately, then all of the usual rules apply. Don’t be tempted to cut corners just because you want to remain safe – a picture of a car is still not a guarantee of its quality, even while there’s a pandemic going on.