The COVID-19 pandemic caused half of Romanian drivers (50.7%) to change their plans to buy a car and choose a cheaper car or postpone the purchase. Thus, 18% or Romanians chose to postpone the purchase of a car for a period of 6-24 months or until the purchase will be necessary (15%).
Another 10% opted for a new car, but from a lower and cheaper class, while 5% reoriented to a used car, according to the EY survey on car buying habits, conducted among drivers in Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Turkey and Russia.
Among the other countries analyzed, the pandemic generated a significant change in purchasing intentions among drivers in Turkey (71%) and Hungary (44%), while two-thirds of drivers in the Czech Republic said their initial plans to purchase a car was not affected.
In total, in Romania, although 70% of the interviewed drivers last bought a used car, the intention to buy a new car increases, almost 60% of drivers preferring the next car purchased to be a new one. Safety, price and fuel consumption are the main factors that Romanian drivers consider when choosing their future vehicle.
Hybrid cars are becoming more attractive to Romanians
Regarding the preference for new types of cars, 30% of Romanian respondents want the next purchase to be a hybrid car (24%) or electric (6%). More popular among the 45-60 age segment, 41% of these respondents said they prefer hybrid or electric vehicles, compared to 21% and 20% of those in the 30-44 and 20-29 age segments, respectively. Although Romania offers among the biggest incentives for the purchase of an electric car in the European Union, their price remains the main obstacle.
“In Romania, the interest for electric and hybrid cars is constantly growing. This can be seen both in the preferences of the population, but also in the investments of companies in services for electric vehicles, such as charging stations. Also, the incentive granted by the state for the acquisition has contributed to the increase of popularity, and in countries where it does not exist, such as the Czech Republic, electric and hybrid models are not taken into account in case of a new acquisition “said Cristian Cârstoiu, Consulting partner in EY Business, responsible for the Automotive, Digital Transformation and Innovation sector (photo).
However, petrol cars remain in the top of Romanians’ options, accumulating a percentage of 35% of the preferences expressed by respondents, and diesel cars registering a decrease with only 19% preference.
Among the analyzed countries, Romanians have the greatest interest in alternative fuels. In Hungary, the purchase intention is 24%, 16% in Turkey and 8% in the Czech Republic. In Russia, where EU rules on greenhouse gas emissions do not apply, up to 65% of drivers are interested in conventional engines, petrol or diesel, and hybrid or electric cars are much less popular (8%).
Asked if they will buy an electric or hybrid car in the future, most Romanian respondents (60%) answered that they would consider this option in case of a good offer, and 25% are sure that they will buy these types of cars. The price is considered the main impediment (36%), followed by the lack of charging stations (27%). The fact that they have low or no emissions and lower maintenance costs are the main advantages appreciated by 41%, respectively 27% of respondents.
Romanians rely on their own experiences when choosing their car dealer
In choosing the car dealer, 47% of Romanian drivers are based on personal experience, this being the main criteria regardless of age, gender or education, and 38% choose dealers who offer a more diverse range of models. And in the case of used cars, the main factor is the variety of models available, 56% of drivers being guided by this option.
Romanian drivers in the age category 45 – 50 are more sensitive to marketing campaigns, with 34% of them admitting that they take them into account in their choices, compared to 29% and 28% for the age groups 20 – 29, respectively 30 – 44 years.
In comparison, most drivers in the Czech Republic (62%) and Hungary (46%) also rely on personal experience in purchasing a car, while for those in Turkey the most important factor influencing their choices is marketing campaigns (62%).
Among Romanian drivers, 68% would choose to visit a car dealer, compared to only 9% who would prefer everything to be online. In the Czech Republic and Hungary, drivers seem even more determined to continue the process of buying through car dealers, with 86% and 79% of them, respectively, indicating this option.
Regarding the number of visits they will make to the car dealer before purchasing a car, 37% of all respondents in Romania would opt, on average, for 2 visits and 22% for 3 visits.
Romanians prefer to prospect the market and consider several offers, 41% mentioning that they will visit several car dealers of different car brands. Turkey (45%) and Russia (55%) will do the same, but the Czechs and Hungarians seem more loyal to their favorite brand, intending to visit more dealers of the same car brand (41% Czech Republic, 52% Hungary).
Romanians, but also Russians, are willing to wait longer to receive a car configured according to their requirements. On the other hand, Czechs and Hungarians prefer a shorter delivery time, even if they have fewer options available.
When buying a used car, most Romanians (30%) prefer to use the services of an authorized dealer, and 25% would buy imported cars. If in Romania the option to buy a used car online was mentioned by only 5% of respondents, in Russia it is preferred by 25% of drivers.
The main services that matters in choosing a particular seller of used cars are the mileage and origin guarantee of the car, according to the answers of 71% of Romanian respondents, followed by additional guarantees (34%) and a wide range of models (34%).
Own funds, preferred for the purchase of a car
For the purchase of a car, 45% of Romanian drivers prefer to use their own funds, especially if they choose to buy a used car. For new cars, most respondents choose to use both their own funds and funds from other sources. Only 23% opted for external financing sources, the main option being a bank loan.
The car brand matters to Romanians
The most important aspects that Romanian drivers consider when choosing their car brand are safety (70%), price (68%) and fuel consumption (62%), regardless of gender, age or education. The car brand is very important especially for those in the 20-29 age segment, and I perceive it as an extension of their own personality. In contrast, in the Czech Republic, drivers are more indifferent and do not perceive the car brand as an important factor.
For the maintenance of the car, independent services are chosen
For car maintenance, an independent service is the main preference of Romanians (54%), especially by those who choose used cars, followed by the dealersjip where the car was bought (40%). Romanians would choose an authorized service for customer-oriented services and for a shorter waiting time. Asked what their favorite car workshop would look like, Romanians mention a service that would offer them fast services for simple operations (eg oil change), which would be within a maximum of two hours.
In the context of the pandemic, drivers would prefer that their car be disinfected before it is handed over to them (53%) and that communication be made with a technician wearing a mask (41%).
Buying a car online, far from the preferences of Romanians
The fact that they could not personally see the car and perform a test drive determines Romanians not to buy a car online, still preferring contact with the car dealership (84%). However, they do not hesitate to use online tools, the favorites being by far the car configurator, the price calculator and the test drive reservation, and the favorite sites are those of the dealer and the car brand. In the Czech Republic (20%), Russia (27%) and Turkey (30%), on the other hand, buying a car online is much more common.
Romanian drivers want to receive traffic information and are willing to send personal information to the insurer
Romanians would connect their car to the internet to receive information about traffic (66%), but also to be able to monitor and locate the vehicle (64%). Instead, they would be willing to provide data about them and their car to the insurer to determine the value of the policy based on driving style and mileage (50%) and for traffic management by the municipality.
The car remains the preferred means of transport inside the city
In a major proportion, 85% of the Romanians who answered prefer the personal car to travel inside the city or near it. Other preferences include public transport and taxis. In the case of alternative methods of transport (bicycles, scooters, car sharing), the most important aspects are related to their price and availability.