A third of current used car buyers originally intended to buy a new car

This is the latest report in a series of weekly updates for industry colleagues from Rachael Prasher, managing director of What Car? and Haymarket Automotive. Quoted poll data is from more than 1600 whatcar.com users.

Nearly a third of used car buyers polled told What Car? they were originally in the market for a new vehicle but switched to pre-owned models in search for better deals and vehicle availability.

With the ongoing microchip shortage continuing to impact new car lead times and vehicle specification levels, we polled 1619 in-market buyers as part of our latest weekly industry research to understand how the shortage is affecting demand.

Of the 46% of in-market buyers looking to purchase a used car, 31% said they were originally in the market for a new car but switched to the used market for better access to vehicles and to reduce their spending. This is an increase of 7% since June, when we first issued the same set of questions.

The influx of buyers to the used market has caused stock issues for used dealers, with 67% of used car buyers telling us that they are finding it hard to find the right used car for them. Half of the used buyers surveyed also said they had seen prices increase for models they were interested in.

The survey also looked at new car buyers. Among these, 39% stated that they had been informed by dealers of possible delays to vehicle orders, while 51% said they are finding it harder than before to find the right new model.

The majority (57%) of new car buyers purchasing from dealer stock told us they expect to have their vehicle delivered within eight weeks, while 98% of those buying to their specification wanted their next car delivered within 16 weeks. If expected waiting times for new car buyers couldn’t be met, 41% said they would look for stock elsewhere.

With a rising share of new car buyers switching to the used market, new car dealers need to try and manage customer expectations as much as possible because buyers are increasingly aware of the supply difficulties that the industry faces.