Car buyers increasingly looking towards UK-built models

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 2800 users. 

World events continue to change buyers’ attitudes when it comes to choosing their next car in many ways – but one of the more surprising is in how they are altering the consideration sets of some buyers based on where a car is built.

With the automotive sector employing more than 800,000 people across the country, this week we looked to establish how the pandemic has changed buyers’ attitudes when it comes to choosing their next car.

2849 in-market buyers were surveyed, with 44% of respondents saying they are now more likely to consider UK-built cars or a UK brand as a result of the latest lockdown. This number is up 5% since we asked the same questions in July last year and shows the increasing support from buyers for vehicles built domestically.

Nearly half of all in-market buyers (47%) also said where a car is manufactured is an important consideration for them when buying their next car.

Only last week, GKN Automotive, an automotive Tier-1 supplier for the likes of Ford and Jaguar Land Rover announced it was to close its Birmingham factory. In our weekly study, 62% of in-market buyers said they were concerned about the future of the UK’s automotive manufacturing sector.

When asked if the Government should be doing more to protect the automotive industry, an overwhelming 70% of respondents said yes, with 12% saying no and 18% stating they don’t know enough on the subject.

A final piece of insight from this week’s research was that 11% of in-market buyers have said the actions of carmakers during the Covid-19 pandemic has influenced how they perceive the brands. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve witnessed efforts ranging from factories being converted to assemble ventilators, to demonstration vehicles being used to deliver food supplies.

On face value, it’s a relatively low proportion, but then you have to ask what other action a car maker could take to generate a similar positive impact on brand perception – and it’s not an easy question to answer. It shows the value in corporate social responsibility programmes, and their effect on brand consumers – something retailers can take into this year. 

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