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Department for Transport report highlights 'peak car' threat to vehicle sales

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The rejection of car ownership is likely to become the “new norm” according to a government report which has highlighted the falling number of teenagers getting behind the wheel.

A change in living circumstances was highlighted as the reason for a 40% decline, over two decades, in the number of teens taking their driving test, as the Department for Transport issued evidence that Britain may have reached a state of "peak car".

The report, published by the DfT yesterday said that it was difficult to envisage a return to previously seen high volumes of car use as an increasing number of people took to the internet to socialise and do business.

According to the study, compiled by the University of the West of England in Bristol and the University of Oxford young men aged 17 to 29 spend 80 minutes more at home in 2014 compared to 1995, with women increasing their time at home by an average of 40 minutes over the same period.

The number of young people with a driving licence, meanwhile, peaked in 1992 to 1994, when 48% of 17 to 24-year-olds held the qualification.

The Times newspaper reported that the two universities had concluded that young people had “become accustomed to a lifestyle in which private car use is less central than it has been for previous generations”.

James Hind, chief executive of carwow, believes that the desire to own a car remains very much alive, but now exists in a slightly older generation of potential consumer.

Hind added: “It’s critical that dealers and manufacturers tap into the way young consumers want to shop – when they are ready to.

“Younger consumers want a digital-first experience, so they can choose the car they want at a price that’s right for them – from the comfort of their screen. They value recommendations from their peers, so it’s crucial that dealers on the forecourt are seen as an expert they can trust, and who offer a service the customer wants to recommend. 

“And crucially they also need an affordable route into the market. According to our research, nine in ten of Millennials – the so-called ‘Generation Rent’ – never expect to own a house or car in their lifetime, therefore promotion of alternative financing options is key.”

 

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