Style and Brand Trumps Eco Concerns in Motorists’ Car Choice

Motorists are dragging their heels in the drive to combat climate change placing self-image and brand loyalty above concerns over a vehicle’s green credentials.

That’s the finding of an UK survey by online vehicle advice platform Autovia that claims a vehicle’s reputation for quality, stylish appearance and a positive previous ownership experience are the three top reasons car buyers choose a new car. According to 1,245 motorists who bought their current car within the past two years, their chosen brand’s reputation for quality topped a list of 17 factors influencing their choice of car, followed by model styling and customer service.

At the same time concerns over a vehicle’s environmental credentials registered the second to last lowest score just ahead of considering recommendations of family and friends.

Reputation for quality was the top reason given by 61% of buyers, followed by model styling which was cited by 53% of drivers. The importance of maintaining customer satisfaction over the long term is revealed by a previously happy experience with the brand ranking third, at 51%.

In a sign that innovative methods of financing cars more affordably have taken some of the heat off price worries, ‘good value for money’ was a top reason for only 40% of buyers. Autovia’s Driver Power research confirms the importance of a reputation for quality by also asking owners whether they avoided any brands and for what reasons.

A poor reputation for quality was the top reason for avoiding specific brands, followed by a negative perception of the brand’s overall image. The ‘brand avoidance’ element in the research also revealed that expectations of high service and repair costs are a deal breaker for many buyers.

Autovia editor-in-chief, Steve Fowler, said: “Brand perceptions are a very subjective phenomenon and yet they are key to success or failure in Britain’s car market, so manufacturers will be fascinated to understand how they are viewed by car buyers. Two of the most unexpected findings in this latest research are that environmental credentials and the influence of family and friends score so low, suggesting that customers feel much more strongly about an enjoyable and stylish car ownership experience that they have discovered through their own research. Dealers will also note that looking after the customer properly is key to retaining loyalty, with women in particular citing a previously good experience as the best reason to stick with a brand.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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