With the covid pandemic becoming more of a bad dream than a daily worry, 2022 is seeing the majority of society trying to get back to some sort of normality. For the UK’s economy, normal means a very busy road network, from suburban streets to some of Europe’s most heavily used motorways. One thing the pandemic brought to into sharp focus, however, was the way in which British motorists access vehicles. Even before covid, there was something of a shift towards leasing rather than buying; with people reassessing their motoring habits, it seems that this method of vehicle usage is set to become ever more attractive.
A number of factors have been making motorists think hard about whether to buy a new car or small van. At national level, the government’s environmental commitments are changing the motoring landscape; specifically, the decision to ban new petrol and diesel vehicles after 2030. With that date only eight years away, motorists are understandably wondering how many vehicles they’ll drive before then, not to mention after. With each check MOT renewal date, those things that tend to go wrong will add to the doubts as to whether car ownership is a good idea after all. That’s on top of the usual worries about depreciation, re-sale values and the cost of repairs.
Even with the worries associated with owning a car, most people who do would still rather have those worries than rely on public transport. If this was true before the covid pandemic, it is even more so because of it. During the first lockdown especially, people were warned not to use buses and trains, due to the higher risk of catching covid. This sensible advice has stayed in people’s minds, despite attempts to get people back to work and going on staycations. As train fares broke the inflation barrier yet again in 2022, the allure of a private car is probably stronger than ever.
This is borne out by official statistics. Surveys carried out on public transport users show that these account for 40% of the travelling public; however, of this number, 43% would much rather travel by car.
If, as this research seems to show, the appetite for using private transport is at least as high as it ever was, ways of acquiring a car are also increasing in number. As at least one TV advert aired many times during the pandemic showed, it’s perfectly possible to source a new or used car and have it delivered to your door without leaving the sofa. As well as comparing models, availability and price, the ability to check MOT status online also makes this type of purchase very reliable. Just as commuters have remembered that they’re more likely to catch covid on public transport, so rising numbers of cases are sure to make people want to avoid meeting sellers face to face if possible.
As previously mentioned, however, before the covid pandemic struck, motorists were increasingly looking to rent rather than buy. Two years down the line, the 2030 petrol and diesel ban is even closer, making such a choice more attractive. Not only that, world events have conspired to push the price of these fuels to levels not seen for nearly two decades, and governments around the world look seriously at where they source fossil fuels in future. Whatever the outcome of international conflicts, it is extremely unlikely that the cost of petrol and diesel will return to anywhere near what it was at the start of 2022. All this being the case, traditional vehicle buying habits are sure to see fundamental changes in the years to come.
Car leasing companies are already well placed to take advantage of all of these developments. If a motorist leases a vehicle which they then find uses too much fuel, they will be sure to lease a different model or make the next time. As manufacturers compete to produce ever more fuel efficient vehicles, not to mention hybrid and all electric models, leasers will see the benefit of this competition.
Leasing companies have also pioneered contact-free customer service. From registering to sourcing and delivery, anyone leasing a car will not have to come into any physical contact with another human being; the same is true when handing the vehicle back. For reasons of convenience as well as health worries, this type of business transaction is likely to be adopted by a whole range of businesses in future.