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THE results of the latest National Franchised Dealers Association Consumer Attitude Survey 2023 show that price is the main driver of automotive decisions with 62% saying this was the key barrier to purchasing an EV.

Just over a quarter of UK consumers drive less to avoid high fuel costs as a result of the cost of living crisis and
42% of UK would buy an EV because of the running cost advantages such as electricity being cheaper than diesel or petrol.

Around a third of UK consumers trust franchised dealers compared to only 14% trusting an independent garage while 55% of respondents over the age of 55 are not interested in buying an EV, significantly higher than other
age groups.

The survey set out to understand consumer behaviour in the UK and in particular around some of the major themes such as electrification. Price remains the biggest barrier to entry to buying an EV with 57% citing
the lack of charging infrastructure and 54% having concerns over battery life in existing EV models.

The two main reasons to purchase an EV were the running cost advantages (42%) and the environmental
benefits (36%). This demonstrates that there is a careful balance between price and the environment which needs to be negotiated in the minds of UK drivers.

When dissecting the data by age brackets, the majority of respondents that were not interested in buying an EV all together were over the age of 35. In particular, 60% of those over 55+ years old stated that they were not interested. The younger generation showed more positive inclinations that they would like to switch, with 71% of 18-24 year olds interested in buying an electric vehicle.

The survey explored current consumer perceptions of franchised dealers and their competitors. Overall, 34% of
consumers were satisfied with the performance of franchised dealers with only 6% being dissatisfied.

Consumers chose franchised dealers, compared to other retailers such as independent garages, for a number of factors including: competitive price models (55%), the availability of EV models (31); and quality of service (27%). Franchised dealers were expected to provide test drive capabilities (73%) and an option for online browsing (52%), demonstrating the vital importance of omnichannel retailing in this sector. Most franchised dealers now operate a Bricks and Clicks strategy meeting this demand from the UK consumer.

What has been evidenced by some of the online only retailers is that UK consumers still want the ability to go to a dealership, speak with a professional and test drive a vehicle before making a purchase.

The survey clearly demonstrated how the cost of living crisis has affected UK consumer attitudes in the automotive sector. In nearly every segment the deciding factor when making a decision was cost. For example, the most  important factor when searching online for a dealer was cost (32%), far higher than positive reviews (20%), or customer service (13%). Price was the also the primary reason to choose a franchised dealership with 55% of consumers believing that was the most influential factor.

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