‘Harder than ever’: Car ownership rates could drop as mounting costs threaten vehicle use

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Many have called for car ownership to be reduced, including the London Mayor and a transport minister in the hopes of clearing traffic and lowering pollution levels. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders found that March 2022 saw new car sales suffer their weakest performance since 1998, with a 14.3 percent year-on-year decrease.

A spokesperson for Co Wheels, questioned whether the UK would be able to cope without the use of cars and how it would work.

They said: “The case for not owning a car full-time seems to be growing more and more as time continues.

“Fewer people working in offices on the weekdays or travelling into city centres for shopping has reduced the daily number of cars on the roads.

“With rising prices for petrol and used cars, it’s harder than ever to enter the world of car ownership in the UK, so drivers are exploring alternative options such as car rentals. 

“The added shortage of new cars and ways to learn and test stacks on the issues for driving could lead to people being dissuaded from owning a personal vehicle full-time.”

They point to a massive shift in driving habits caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the widespread move to working from home.

Many businesses have found that both a hybrid style of working and working from home can be productive for growth.

A study from the Office for National Statistics found that in 2021, 85 percent of people wanted a hybrid blend of office working and remote working going forward.

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If this stays as the norm, the number of people looking to commute will drop dramatically.

It was estimated that during the pandemic, vehicle use was reduced by as much as 60 percent as a result of a decrease in commuting and personal travel.

Co Wheels believe this could lead to more looking into hiring or renting cars for a shorter period of time if they want to remain behind the wheel but without their own car.

Supply chain issues have also hampered vehicle output globally in the last few years.

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A report from the SMMT found that countless manufacturers are struggling with supply chain issues and factory closures, with a 41 percent drop in car production numbers.

Alongside this, used car prices have shot up with more estimates showing a spike in price at 33 percent more expensive in 2022 than they were this time last year.

Petrol and diesel prices have also become a huge burden for drivers, on top of massive household bills as the cost of living crisis rages on.

Fuel costs hit their all-time record price in March, with some experts pointing towards further increases in price over the coming months in response to global oil prices and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The spokesperson for Co Wheels also pointed to the number of people looking to start driving.

Prior to March 2020, the number of people testing to drive in the UK was around 1.6 million per year.

However, this dropped dramatically between 2020 and 2021 with the DVSA reporting numbers closer to 436,000.

They continued, saying: “For some eager learners faced with a four-hour round trip for an examination that takes upwards of 40 minutes, the pressure to pass first time and avoid having to retest can be daunting.

“This could understandably lead to a number of learners leaning away from even taking their test, let alone thinking about owning a car.”

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