Cost of living crisis forcing families to sell their cars, says Startline’s October Tracker

  • One in four reducing the number of cars in their family
  • Owning a car less attractive as cost of living bites for three out of five
  • Three out of five predict next car will be cheaper

THE cost of living crisis is forcing families to sell their cars, according to October’s Startline Used Car Tracker.

Almost one in four (23%) say they already or are going to reduce the number of cars in their family while 61% say that tightening personal finances have changed their attitudes to car ownership for the worse.

Paul Burgess, CEO at Startline Motor Finance, said: “There’s probably more than one trend happening here. The first is that some two car families are switching to one in order to cut their outgoings, something for which we hear anecdotal evidence.

“However, there is also no doubt some families that are really feeling the pinch of the cost of living crisis have had to become carless, which is something that could have a real and very negative impact on their work and family lives.

“It’s always worth underlining that our monthly research looks at attitudes – it tracks how people are thinking about behaving as well as what they are actually doing – so there is almost certainly not many cars yet being sold but these latest findings make it clear that running a vehicle is becoming much more difficult for the many families hit by the cost of living crisis.”

The Startline Tracker also found that 59% were looking to switch to cheaper to run, while almost a third (29%) would buy a car with a smaller engine, and 21% simply a smaller car.

Motorists also appear to be turning away from petrol and diesel as a result of the cost of living crisis, with 19% saying they would look next for a hybrid car and 15% electric.

Paul said: “As most people know, there is a massive shortage of used cars in the UK at the moment, something that is unlikely to change in the medium term, and the market remains really very buoyant largely as a result of this fact and ongoing demand.

“However, the research shows we’re likely to see consumer preference shift towards smaller models as they try to cut their outgoings. Cars capable of better MPG – as well as hybrids and EVs – could become much more in-demand quite quickly. Whether there are sufficient numbers of these models in the market to meet this demand is very much open to question.”

There are some signs that used cars are becoming better buys with people who say they are unattractive because of high prices having fallen from 83% in August to 50% now.

Paul said: “There has been a slight fall in used car prices this year and there will probably be another during the next few months. Although these are quite small percentages, perhaps potential buyers are noticing. There is certainly an argument that used cars are becoming better value, certainly compared to ongoing price rises for new cars.”

The Startline Used Car Tracker is compiled for Startline Motor Finance by APD Global Research, well-known in the motor industry for their business intelligence reporting and customer experience programs. This month, 304 consumers and 55 dealers were questioned.

Founded nine years ago, Startline is a flexible motor finance specialist and employs 170 people at its Glasgow headquarters. It works with around half of the UK’s top 50 franchise dealers by turnover as well as 70% of the top 50 independent car retailers, and currently accounts for more than 2% of the UK used car motor finance sector by volume.

The latest stories