Car ownership in the future: What Car? poll reveals a continued desire for personal mobility

More than eight out of 10 people say their lives would be compromised if they didn’t own a car according to the latest survey from What Car?.

More than eight out of 10 people say their lives would be compromised if they didn’t own a car according to the latest survey from What Car? – underlining that personal mobility remains at the core of society despite how the Covid-19 pandemic has severely restricted travel opportunities for almost a year.

The study was conducted with more than 6500 in-market buyers to determine how owning a vehicle impacts on working, social and family lives. It also intended to gauge future perceptions of car ownership, with the industry undergoing significant change in the face of the challenges of electrification, digitisation and autonomous driving.

Eighty-six per cent of respondents told What Car? they could not accommodate their current lifestyle without a car, with 96% saying their personal and family lives would suffer without access to a car, 93% saying their social lives would suffer and – despite the poll being conducted during tiered restrictions and localised lockdowns – 74% saying that their working lives would suffer in some way. However, underlining the impact of working from home, 22% acknowledged that they could now see a way to finding an alternative that would allow their working lives to carry on without disruption, when asked if they could do their job without a car.

The impact on personal and family life was also cited as the most acute potential loss from not owning a car; 47% of respondents said that they would be impacted “significantly” without one.

The study of 6566 people also revealed that just 8% of owners have bought a car because it is the cheapest mode of transport for them; 56% of respondents said that owning a vehicle is more convenient than other forms of transport and 18% said they view a car as being a central part of their lifestyle.

Despite the stated reliance on cars by the vast majority of respondents – with 79% unable to imagine living without a car for at least the next a decade and 51% saying they can’t imagine a point in the future where they won’t need to own a car – more than two-thirds (68%) said they would be willing to modify their car use to help the environment.

The What Car? findings come as analysts speculate on the car’s role in a post-pandemic world, particularly focusing on how usage could change in the face of altered commuting patterns and a desire to explore travel opportunities once restrictions ease. Car sales in China, one of the first nations to emerge from the pandemic, have subsequently boomed, rising year-on-year in the second half of 2020.

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