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New cars in Britain

Britain has newer cars than every European country – apart from one

New cars in Britain

The average age of a car in Great Britain is significantly newer than the vast majority of other European nations. This is according to figures released by the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA).

It found that, on average, the vehicle fleet in Britain is eight years old. Only Luxembourg – the fifth-wealthiest country in the world – has a newer fleet (6.4 years old).

Compare and contrast with Lithuania, where the average age is 16.9 years old. Similarly in Estonia, where the figure is 16.7, Romania (16.3) and Greece (15.7).

PCP, PPI and Scrappage

In Britain, new car sales have been boosted by the rise of affordable finance, with Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) deals putting new cars within reach of more people. In some cases, new cars are cheaper per month than a mobile phone contract, with some deals including zero- or very low-deposit options.

This comes amid a backdrop low interest rates, giving consumers no real incentive to save, along with the lump sums generated as a result of PPI payments. Why maintain an ageing vehicle when you can ‘own’ a vehicle under warranty and for a fixed monthly fee?

Scrappage is another factor. Not only does the promise of a generous part-exchange price increase the chances of another new car hitting the road, it has the double effect of removing an old vehicle from the system. This lowers the average age of Britain’s car fleet.

London scrappage scheme

But while cars are significantly newer in Britain, the reverse is true across the European Union. Figures from the European Environment Agency and IHS show that the average passenger car age in 2000 was around 7.5 years. By 2017, that number had risen to 12 years.

It’s clear that the increase in the number of EU members has played a part. Since 2004, 13 countries have joined the European Union, including many former Eastern Bloc nations. Here, there’s a strong reliance on older, less safe, and heavily polluting vehicles.

New car CO2 down

ACEA sees this as a potential problem for the EU. With manufacturers making huge strides in the fields of emissions and safety, consumers will be unable to see the full potential of these technologies if they hold on to their cars for longer. Average CO2 emissions of new cars have decreased from 172.2g/km in 2000, to 118.5g/km in 2017.

If consumers fail to embrace new cars, they’re not benefiting from the advanced safety systems, while countries and cities will struggle to meet stringent air quality targets.

“The premature phasing-out of removal of customer incentives seriously impacts the market uptake of alternative fuel vehicle vehicles,“ ACEA warns. It wants ‘consistent incentive schemes’ for passenger vehicles, including the revision of the European energy taxation system.

Combined, petrol and diesel account for 95.9 percent of the EU vehicle fleet. Meanwhile, the battery electric sector has secured a tiny 0.2 percent share of the fleet. ACEA says this is due to the high prices and ‘inconvenience’ issues, such as range anxiety.

Average age of the EU vehicle fleet

CountryAverage age of vehicle fleet
1. Luxembourg6.4
2. Great Britain8.0
3. Austria8.2
4. Republic of Ireland8.4
5. Denmark8.5
6. France9.0
= Belgium 9.0
8. Germany9.5 
9. Sweden9.6
10. Slovenia10.1
11. Netherlands11.0
12. Italy12.0
13. Finland12.1
14. Spain12.4
15. Croatia12.6
16. Portugal12.9
17. Poland13.9
= Slovakia13.9
= Latvia13.9
20. Hungary14.2
21. Czech Republic14.8
22. Greece15.7
23. Romania16.3
24. Lithuania16.9

Source: ACEA, Vehicles in use – Europe 2019

Post-Brexit car market to be ‘unleashed’ in 2020

Car market to be 'unleashed' in 2020

2020 could be the year the UK car market gets back on track, according to new research. An unlocked parliament and an end to Brexit uncertainty is said to be inspiring more confidence in car buyers. Sales have been stalling over the past three years since the referendum. Indeed, car sales fell for the third year in a row in 2019.

The research by BuyaCar has polled more than 3,000 people on their car-buying intentions, past present and future. One in six (15 percent) said that an end to the gridlocked parliament of the last few months and years means they’ll be more likely to take the plunge in 2020 and beyond.

For those deeper into the process of finding a car, who are looking at specific models, it’s up to 24 percent (almost one in four). In general, the closer car buyers are to taking the plunge, the more confident the landslide election result has made them about going ahead.

Car market to be 'unleashed' in 2020

Compare that to March last year. Car shoppers told BuyaCar that Brexit uncertainty was at the top of the list of reasons why they have delayed buying a car for two years or more. On the face of it, the car market forecast is brighter for 2020, though Brexit still looms incomplete.

BuyaCar editor Christopher Lloyd says that the research is backed up by search traffic on its platform. An increase in traffic in between Christmas and New Year this year plays a drop-off in 2018.

Car market to be 'unleashed' in 2020

“As we have been reminded almost daily in the news over the past couple of years, Brexit uncertainty has been deeply damaging to consumer and business confidence,” Lloyd said.

“So this research suggests that a lot of pent-up demand is about to be unleashed now that the question has been decisively settled. The car industry has had a torrid time since the 2016 referendum and although our own sales of used cars have continued to grow, the new car market in particular has been consistently falling. From this research it seems clear that, wherever you stand on Brexit, an end to uncertainty may be just the thing to unleash buyers back into the market.“

The most common cars and brands on UK roads

The most common cars

Sometimes it seems most of the 32 million+ cars on British roads are virtually the same. Now we have a definitive list of the most common cars in the UK, courtesy of CompareTheMarket. Let’s count them down.

10. Renault ClioThe most common cars

Tenth on the list is France’s best-loved automotive export. In total, 466,044 of us drive the Renault Clio. We still don’t know what the French for va va voom is. Thierry, what about you? 

9. Toyota YarisThe most common cars

It’s probably no surprise that much of this list is comprised of superminis like the Clio and ninth-placed Toyota Yaris. Small cars are a tonic for the British motorist, with the Yaris getting 486,637 drivers from A to B.

8. Nissan QashqaiThe most common cars

Was the Qashqai the genesis for the crossover craze? Or did the Land Rover Freelander, Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V lay the foundations? We can’t say for sure, but 12 years on from its launch, the Qashqai is the car of choice for 489,000 UK drivers.

7. BMW 3 SeriesThe most common cars

The BMW 3 Series is the only executive car on this list. More than 606,000 British motorists have this long-standing chunk of Bavarian brilliance on their driveway.

6. Volkswagen PoloThe most common cars

The smaller ‘people’s car’ is considered the premium choice in its segment, above the likes of the Clio and Yaris. Yet it’s more common than those rivals, too. In total, 677,000 roam our roads. 

5. Vauxhall AstraThe most common cars

We’ve reached the half-way point and speaking of the middle of the road here’s the Vauxhall Astra. There are 955,224 in the wild.

4. Volkswagen GolfThe most common cars

The benchmark hatchback beats the Vauxhall past a million, though. The omnipresent Volkswagen Golf numbers 1,065,000 on our roads, as it transitions into its eighth generation.

3. Vauxhall CorsaThe most common cars

We’re into the top three, and Vauxhall fights back. The little Corsa joins its small car classmates: Polo, Yaris and Clio. A whopping 1,109,000 of us drive a Corsa in the UK.

2. Ford FocusThe most common cars

The Focus has been around half the time the Volkswagen Golf has, but it’s a massive sales hit. Around 1,297,000 UK drivers own Ford’s family hatch, now in its fourth iteration.

1. Ford FiestaThe most common cars

‘Fiesta’ is probably second only to ‘Mini’ as an iconic name for small cars in the UK. And 1.5 million of us drive them today.

The top 10 makesThe most common cars

As a bonus round, let’s consider the most popular makes. There’s a degree of repetition, with the list largely reflecting the most popular models. Renault is 10th, with 1.1 million drivers. Fellow French marque Peugeot leads it in ninth, with 1.4 million on UK roads.

Germans marques make a markThe most common cars

While only BMW and Volkswagen feature among the 10 most popular models, Mercedes-Benz and Audi join them on the marques list. Mercedes (eighth – 1.5 million), Audi (fifth – 1.6 million), BMW (fourth – 1.8 million) and Volkswagen (third – 2.8 million) all make the top 10.

Toyota and NissanThe most common cars

While the Yaris and Qashqai feature in ninth and 10th on the most popular models list, Nissan and Toyota themselves are seventh and sixth. It’s mighty close, mind, with there being 1.545 million of the former and 1.551 million of the latter.

Kings of the roadThe most common cars

As on the most popular model list, you’d be forgiven for thinking that every other car is a Corsa or a Fiesta. And that’s mostly true. There are 3.4 million Vauxhalls on UK roads, plus 4.3 million Fords. Add them up, and that means that one in every four cars is either a Ford or Vauxhall. Also, more than one in every four Fords is a Fiesta, and nearly one in three Vauxhalls is a Corsa.

Mercedes-Benz CLA

All show: North East car buyers are the flashiest in the UK

Mercedes-Benz CLA

Who in Britain is the proudest when it comes to cars? Londoners? Nope. Essex boys (and girls)? Not even close. The flashiest of us car owners in the UK, in fact, reside in the North East, according to a 2,000-person survey commissioned by GAP insurance provider, InsureTheGap.com.

It figures that a Guaranteed Asset Protection provider would endeavour to uncover where in the UK swaps out cars for new models the most frequently. And the survey says a lot about proud North-Eastern car culture and what their transport means to them.

The headline figure is that 41 percent of North-Eastern car buyers get a new car every two to four years, compared to the national average of 28 percent. One in four buyers choose new instead of used, because of the ‘new car’ look and feel, never mind the added cost.

Compare that to a mere 19 percent of people from across the UK that have the same sentiments. That could explain why car owners in the North East are also the least likely of any in the UK to own their car outright, and are in the top three regions for people who say their car payment is in their top three monthly expenses.

As a nation, it seems we’re rather keen on cars as a status symbol. While 27 percent of people in the UK think a car should say something about who you are and what you’ve done with yourself, one in three (36 percent) of North-Eastern folks take the same view.

Range-Rover Evoque

Only 14 percent of North-Eastern drivers would accept a hand-me-down car, compared to a national average of 21 percent. They’re also the least likely to accept that old “as long as it gets me from A to B” sentiment – 32 percent versus 42 percent across the UK.

When asked if picking a car is an affair of the heart rather than a common sense purchase, 24 percent said yes, versus the national average of 16 percent.

Given cars are more objects of desire to the North-Eastern folk, it comes as no surprise that they are the least attracted to more environmentally friendly cars. 27 percent indicated a willingness to drive an electric car, looking titchy compared to the national average of 37 percent and the whopping 49 percent London figure.

“Throughout our survey, the North East consistently came out as the region where people take most pride in their cars with very few people prepared to compromise when it comes to buying a new car, or “making-do” with a hand-me-down“, said Ben Wooltorton, Chief Operating Office at InsuretheGap.com

“Interestingly, it was also the region that was least likely to be prepared to move away from traditional petrol and diesel cars. The region appears to be every car salesperson’s dream.”

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