Auto Trader has found a sharp year-on-year increase of 18-24 year olds looking at cars onsite.

Between 1 June and 20 September, 15% of the platform’s audience were aged 18-24 – equating to a staggering 5.7million people – compared to just 6% in the same period last year. Over a quarter (27%) of Auto Trader’s current audience are aged 25-34 years old.

The pandemic seems to have changed the attitude of many Gen-Z’ers who are now deciding to take to the roads earlier to avoid public transport and reduce risk of spreading coronavirus to family and loved ones.

This increased desire to buy a car in light of the situation is mirrored in the number of people now wanting to learn how to drive.

RED, the largest driving school in the UK, has reported a huge surge in demand for driving lessons. New learner activity on its website is over 100% higher than the same time last year. In the past four weeks alone, RED had 43,664 enquiries, compared to 17,500 for the same period last year, showing a 250% increase.

The average age of those passing their driving test in the UK is 23.73, according to the Department for Transport (DfT) and DVLA (2019/2020).

Demand for particular types of cars is also changing in light of the ongoing situation, with smaller cars increasing in desirability for commuting and nipping about. Hatchbacks on Auto Trader recorded the largest average price growth last week, increasing 11.5% for the same period last year.

Auto Trader’s Rory Reid says: “The pandemic has shifted young people’s views of car ownership and gotten them to hit the road earlier than usual, as they look to rely less on public transport and try to minimise risk of spreading coronavirus.

“This is great for the car industry overall as it opens up a new pool of buyers, and of course benefits the drivers themselves as they get far more freedom when travelling. It’s a great time to buy a car, as there’s an enormous range of make/models available, including electric cars and hybrids – an important consideration for Gen-Z’ers who are looking for more environmentally friendly options.”

Ian McIntosh, RED’s CEO says: “Since driving lessons resumed in England on 4th July, we have seen an unprecedented numbers of new customers wishing to learn to drive with RED. I’m pleased to say that we now have more than 1,400 driving instructors on the roads across the UK and they are flat-out working to meet this new demand which has come from the backlog of created by lockdown and a new wave of learners who are keen to get behind the wheel in order to minimise their time spent on public transport.”