How has the COVID 19 pandemic affected driving?

The pandemic has put a lot of things on hold, including the motoring industry.

We’ve seen everything from non-existent driving lessons to car sales going through the floor, with some reports showing the lowest sales figures for 3 decades. But this doesn’t mean the industry is beyond saving. As the global vaccination response picks up speed, we can see the green shoots of recovery. Let’s find out more about how Covid-19 has affected, driving in general. Round Trip Tyres has assessed the situation below.

Car sales

So How has the COVID 19 pandemic affected driving? As mentioned, car sales are down. According to “Tighter restrictions came into force on January 5th across the UK. These only permit ‘essential’ businesses to stay open to the public. The government has classed car dealerships as ‘non-essential’ and, as a result, they must close their doors – just as they did in March 2020.”

Although some people need to buy a car, the demand for cars is simply not high at the moment. Here is a screenshot from Google trends for the search term: ‘new car.’

We can see that during the first lockdown – demand fell dramatically:

As you can imagine, consumers questioned whether they needed a new car and if this was the right climate for such an expense. Many of us are working from home and if all the rumours from industries are correct, most of us will be working from home in some capacity, forever.

After the pandemic is over, fewer people will need to travel to work every morning. Vehicle usage will bounce back as there will be a lot of ‘pent up demand’ for those wanting to get out and about, however, car dealerships will more than likely still need to look into car dealership marketing to get their sales back up.

On top of this, the newest laws around carbon emissions that have been set for 2022 will be in force. Thus, there is one shining light in this downturn – the demand for electric cars is on the rise. Covid-19 has merely sped this up. According to next green car, “registrations for pure-EVs in the first nine months of 2020 are up 127% compared to 2019” showing positive growth.

Driving lessons

If you started going to a Driving School South Shields before the pandemic, you know how much it has affected your ability to learn. Sharing cars with another member of another household is not allowed by law. This is something that has made it difficult for car instructors to make a living and for pupils to learn how to drive. However, if both people have been tested and proven to have negative results, then you can share a car for special reasons, such as learning how to drive. However, both the instructor and the learner have to wear a mask whilst they are in a car. You can click here to find an N95 mask for sale if you are a driving instructor or if you plan to book some driving lessons soon. You cannot share a car, even if you are both negative, if it’s just to go shopping together or to a park, etc. But driving lessons have been given some leeway, even though many households have chosen not to engage in this practice. One would have to test every single time you went for a lesson and thus, it gets tiresome to keep on doing this. Again, we can see the same dip in demand for the term ‘driving lessons’ on Google Trends:

Vehicle usage

Normal vehicle usage has also been affected, almost beyond recognition. We saw many graphs such as the one below during daily coronavirus briefings showing the decline of vehicle usage:

(Source: ITS).

As most supermarket brands have adapted to making most of their sales online, i.e. home delivery, many people don’t even drive to the shops and back anymore. As many, if not most, are working from home, there’s little reason to use the car anymore. So what does this actually mean for the car itself?

Well, experts think that, without a reason to drive anywhere, car usage will continue to remain uneventful and stagnant. However, and this is a big ‘however’, when things get back to normal, you need your car to function and there will be a lot of pent up demand – with people desperate to get out and about. Many people will actually want to go back to work, just to get out of the house again! So you need to maintain your car. Switch it on, let it idle for 5-10 minutes, put the heating on, use the electrics and make sure the tyres, brakes and lights all work. Check up on these things once a week.

It’s pretty brutal

Listen chaps, there’s no way to sugarcoat it, so we’re not going to. It would be dishonest and an insult to your intelligence. Driving has been massively affected by Covid-19. Nobody saw this coming. Commercial real estate has been hard hit as workers stay home, and the car industry has also been hit just as hard, as workers don’t commute anymore. What lies ahead for driving and the car industry? I think there is reason to be optimistic now that we have a way out through the vaccine. Even after this is all over, we will still carry on working from home a lot, the restrictions on car manufacturing will be in place and a shift to fully electric will be underway. Massive infrastructure, industry and cultural changes are taking place as we speak. The key is to keep doing the basics, such as driving on the weekend to keep your skills sharp, maintain your car so it’s in good health and learn about the changes the industry is making. We’ll be out on the roads again towards the end of the year so that is something to be positive about.

Please feel free to contact us if you’d like more information about how you can maintain your car while not driving it as much and what you need to do to keep it in good shape with such little usage.