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Global Automotive Consumer Study 2021

91% of Belgian consumers say the crisis has not had any impact on the kind of vehicle they plan to buy and only 15% plan to delay the purchase of their next vehicle.

In the latest edition of Deloitte’s annual Global Automotive Consumer Study, we look forward to 2021 and beyond. Deloitte surveyed more than 24,000 consumers in 23 countries, including 1,057 in Belgium, to explore opinions regarding a variety of critical issues impacting the automotive sector, including implications of the pandemic on consumer perceptions, the development of advanced technologies and impact of digital automotive retail platforms.

When do Belgian consumers plan to buy their next vehicle?

The pandemic-induced social distancing is not a major factor for consumers to think about vehicle ownership, with only 15% considering it a key factor.

While consumers in many markets are rethinking when they will be buying their next vehicle due to the pandemic, in Belgium this phenomenon seems to be limited. In line with neighbouring countries such as Germany, only a quarter of

Belgians have altered their timeline for acquiring their next vehicle, with 15%
planning to delay it compared to 17% in the US, 29% in China and 38% in India.

Out of those who plan to acquire their next vehicle sooner than planned, 62% stated that the availability of a government stimulus programmes has had some or significant impact on their decision.

Interestingly, the pandemic-induced social distancing is not a major factor for consumers to think about vehicle ownership, with only 15% considering it a key factor.

2021 Global Automotive Consumer Study: BE insights

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What type of vehicle will Belgian consumers prefer to buy?

More than 1 in 3 Belgian consumers plan to buy an electric or hybrid vehicle next

With 91% of Belgians stating that they have not changed their mind, the pandemic has hardly had any impact on the type of vehicle consumers are planning to buy, but those impacted want to spend less money, for example by buying a smaller or more fuel efficient vehicle.

More than 1 in 3 Belgian consumers plan to buy an electric or hybrid vehicle next. However, before petrol/diesel vehicles are completely ruled out, consumers require greater assurance around affordability, mileage and robust charging infrastructure rollouts. Nonetheless, stricter carbon emission regulations on the horizon point to a “closing window” for the traditional petrol/diesel vehicle.

Most EV intenders expect to primarily charge their EVs at home (64%) or work (16%). Only 19% plan to use public chargers despite the persistent, overall concern regarding the availability of a viable charging network. Two thirds of EV intenders (67%) are looking to buy in the sub-€30,000 range, signaling a price threshold for the technology.

Advanced technology vehicle features are appealing to consumers. Safety technologies are still top of mind, with blind spot warning (71%) and emergency braking features (68%) among the most desired. However, 47% of Belgian consumers don’t think that full self-driving cars will be safe, compared to 43% in 2019. Notably, more Belgian consumers are concerned about the risks of someone hacking into their connected vehicle and risking their personal safety (58%) than recognise the benefits of these technologies (38%).
 

2021 Global Automotive Consumer Study

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The global automotive industry, like many others, has been profoundly impacted by the pandemic. Ever stricter vehicle emissions requirements in many markets around the world are also pushing the goal of electric mobility forward. A focused
European recovery plan could help open up a new world of possibility.

Eric Desomer,
Belgian Automotive Industry Leader

Where will Belgian consumers buy and service their next vehicle?

Online automotive sales rise, but the in-person experience is preferred

Even if people are looking for a virtual sales experience, 9 in 10 would still prefer to acquire their next vehicle physically from a dealer (83% fully in-person); people still need to see and drive a vehicle before they buy it. In fact, only 23% of consumers are either somewhat or very likely to buy their next vehicle without a test drive. However, if we compare the age groups, 1 in 4 consumers aged 18-34 are looking to buy their next vehicle partially or fully online, suggesting a continued need for the automotive industry to invest in digitisation for the future.

One virtual transaction that generates a high level of interest globally is virtual servicing, where a vehicle is picked up from a home or office when it needs service. Consumers in Belgium are largely in favour of the added convenience, provided it comes free of charge (49%).

 

How are Belgian consumers going to finance their purchase?

Overall, less than 1 in 10 people have requested a payment deferment this year, but that number is somewhat higher among younger consumers

Despite current economic climate, researching financing options is not top of mind for Belgian consumers, however convenience, low rates and easy process are the topmost factors that influence their decision.

Younger consumers most prefer completing a finance application online (32% at home, 24% at the dealership, 10% via their smartphone), while older consumers prefer to communicate details to salesperson at the dealership.

Unlike many other retail sectors that have seen a wholesale shift to online buying, purchasing a vehicle remains a largely personal experience for many consumers with the need for the customer to see and to drive the vehicle. However, if we compare the age groups, 1 in 4 consumers aged 18-34 are looking to buy their next vehicle partially or fully online, suggesting a continued need for the automotive industry to invest in digitisation for the future.

Aled Walker, Deloitte Belgium automotive expert

More information? 

For more information on the Belgian automotive market, and the trends we have identified, please reach out via the contact details below.

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