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Cash-strapped motorists fail to understand true cost of car ownership You Gov survey on attitudes to car ownership for Europcar finds motorists making short-term cost savings which could lead to longer term financial pain More drivers in Scotland feel trapped into car ownership

Increasing motoring costs and the fuel price hikes we have seen this year are changing how we drive our cars in the UK – but ignorance of the real cost of motoring could lead to longer term financial pain for car owners. These are the conclusions of new research on attitudes to car ownership conducted by You Gov Plc for Europcar UK Group, the UK’s leading vehicle rental organisation.

1 in 3 drivers (34%) now think that people are trapped into car ownership by their location, work and family commitments.  This is felt most strongly in Scotland where 37% of respondents to the survey agreed with this view.  And, around 1 in 4 thinks that the cost of ownership outweighs the benefits.  Yet, in Scotland, only 8% had any real idea of the true cost of running a car.  76% underestimated the cost and 15% simply had no idea. Even assuming respondents to the survey were guessing the figure based purely on the cost of keeping a car on the road (£2,435*), only 14% of drivers in Scotland estimated within the right parameters.

Tim Bailey, Fleet Director for Europcar UK Group says: “The invention of the car brought us freedom and flexibility but over a third of drivers say motorists feel trapped into car ownership. With respondents from two car households in Scotland making up 37% of the sample – the research suggests that, in the pursuit of short-term cost cutting measures, drivers could be missing the bigger picture because they don’t have a clear understanding of the costs of running one or two cars.”

77% of drivers in Scotland have taken action to reduce the costs associated with car ownership.  Of these, 78% have cut the number of journeys they are making (compared to UK figure of 68%).  This was the highest response for drivers cutting costs through reduced car use, in any part of the UK.  And, 48% have changed the way they drive to conserve fuel (compared to
UK figure of 46%).

Plus motorists are cutting costs for servicing, maintenance and roadside assistance.  In fact 19% of drivers in Scotland are not having their car serviced as regularly to reduce costs, compared to 16% across the UK.  But this could have serious implications for their safety and could also affect re-sale values which will be a particular concern for the 21% of drivers in
Scotland that said they have decided not to replace their car this year.

Respondents to the survey from Scotland said that the feeling of being trapped into car ownership was due to where they lived (86% compared to UK 79%) followed by work (72%) and family commitments (60%).  More drivers inScotland see family commitments as a reason for being trapped into car ownership than any other part of the UK. And, while 77% of drivers in Scotland have taken action to reduce the cost of car ownership only 3% have taken the ultimate measure – to give up the one of the household cars. Tim Bailey continues: “Households with more than one car are particularly hard hit by rising costs.  But the reality is that public transport is not providing the solution and the Scottish mindset has not yet moved to seeing rental as a viable alternative. 

“However, at Europcar, we are starting to see more people renting for day to day needs and as an alternative to second car ownership.  When you look at the figures, 54% of the cost of running a car is fuel and over 70% of that cost is fuel tax and VAT.  By renting a car you can eliminate all the other costs – insurance, maintenance and roadside assistance and also reduce fuel consumption by as much as a third by driving a nearly new car in a more efficient way.

“It’s a trend we think will grow as the cost of running cars – petrol, insurance, etc – eats into already stretched household budgets. In fact the survey showed that 23% have either used or are considering using car rental as an alternative to car ownership.”

The findings of the You Gov Plc survey in the UK contrasts with the forthcoming release from Europcar International of The Europcar Transportation & Mobility Observatory – a study of European drivers.  This found that our counterparts on the continent are much more ready to give up their cars.  In the survey 18% of Europeans said they are ready to do without their cars and 26% of those surveyed believe travel would cost less if they didn’t have a car.

“While recent research from insurer esure** suggests nearly half of all motorists are considering downscaling to one vehicle per household, it’s up to organisations such as ours to ensure motorists have alternatives to consider that will not only save costs but provide a solution that is safe and reliable.

“Certainly at Europcar we are addressing the move towards less reliance on car ownership with new services such as delivery and collection and hourly rentals plus we’re looking at ways to streamline the rental process to make it much more transparent and easy to use.”

Key Statistics of respondents who own/use a car – UK

  • More than 1 in 3 people (34%) think we are trapped into car ownership
  • Around 1 in 4 (26%) think that the cost of car ownership outweighs the benefits.
  • Almost 1 in 5 has absolutely no idea about how much it costs to run a car – only 8% correctly estimated the annual running cost of owning a new car.
  • In a bid to cut costs, I in 4 has decided not to change their car this year, 16% have cut costs in terms of servicing, maintenance (14%) and/or roadside assistance (11%)
  • 68% are using their car less frequently and almost half (46%) have changed the way they drive to conserve fuel
  • Over 1 in 5 (23%) have either used or are considering using car rental as an alternative to ownership

The You Gov survey commissioned by Europcar UK Group was conducted between 23rd and 25th September 2008.  1,563 UK Adults who own or use a car were surveyed – a representative sample of all
UK adults.

*Based on research by RAC Cost of Motoring Index 2008.

** esure press release 3/10/08 –
UK set to become nation of one car households.

October 2008

Notes to Editors  

Owned by the French private equity firm Eurazeo, Europcar is the European leader in passenger car and light utility vehicle rentals. Since March 2007 with the acquisition of Vanguard EMEA (National & Alamo brands), its network comprises over 5,300 rental outlets in 160 countries. Europcar serves business and leisure customers throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region. Excluding franchise operations, in 2007 Europcar signed more than 10 million rental contracts, with 7,700 employees and a fleet exceeding 215,000 vehicles. For more information: www.europcar.com

For further press information please contact: Dominic Dennis, Madeleine Roles, Elinor Puzey or Alison Reeson at HSL, Churcham House, 1 Bridgeman Road, Teddington, Middlesex, TW11 9AJ. Telephone: 020 8977 9132. Fax: 020 8977 5200. Email: leisureteam@harrisonsadler.com

Please click on the link to view graphs yougov-scotland-charts.pdf

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