Online searched for used cars surge past pre-lockdown levels

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There were more searches for used cars in the first week of June than before lockdown, coinciding with the reopening of forecourts in England, analysis of searches on AA Cars, AA’s used car website has revealed.

Searches in the first week of June rose by 9.1% compared to the first week of March, before any social distancing measures were implemented, suggesting interest in used cars has sprung back to pre-pandemic levels.

The lockdown has had a big impact on the used car market, with total sales falling by 8.3% in the first quarter of 2020 according to the SMMT. This was despite two strong months in January and February, both of which saw more sales than the same months in 2019.

Forecourts reopened in England on June 1, and this has resulted in a spike in interest from drivers. Searches in the first week of June were 163.2% greater than in April, when lockdown restrictions were tightest.

Drivers’ search behaviour has changed since restrictions were eased. The iconic city car, the Fiat 500, has become the fifth most searched for vehicle in June so far. It was not in the top 10 for any of the three preceding months.

Meanwhile, interest in electric cars has returned to pre-lockdown levels. ‘Electric’ was the fourth most popular search-term in June, but it did not appear at all in searches in April and May.

James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars comments: “The increase in searches for used cars is a really encouraging sign for the industry, following on from some very challenging months.

“Suggestions that commuters who usually use public transport might now opt to buy a car for their journey to work appear to be borne out with the surge in interest in city cars such as the Fiat 500.

“Equally positive is the renewed interest in electric vehicles. Searches for them fell away during the height of the lockdown in April and May, but they are back in the top five most popular search terms.

“During the lockdown, we all noticed that the fall in traffic resulted in less noise and an improvement in air quality, and this may encourage drivers to start making the transition towards greener vehicles which are better for the environment.”