Direct Line Insurance Group plc

05/28/2021 | Press release | Archived content

Motorists aspire to a happy medium in their driving life

Motorists aspire to a happy medium in their driving life

4min read
28 May 2021
Share this story:
  • Medium-sized cars such as the VW Golf, Ford Focus or Audi A3 are the most popular vehicles across all age groups
  • Around 575,000 new drivers are still hitting the UK's roads each year as the number of cars on the roads rises by 2.4 million in five years
  • Motorists are driving a wider range of cars with the top sellers accounting for a smaller proportion of vehicles on the road
  • The under-25s and 45 to 54-year-olds aspire to drive luxury cars in their lifetime

Motorists aspire to drive a medium-sized car throughout their driving life, no matter what their age, reveals new research from Direct Line Motor Insurance1.

Choice of cars and the number of new drivers and cars on the road is accelerating, analysis2 for Direct Line Motor Insurance shows. The top 10 selling cars now only account for around 26 per cent of all vehicles on the roads compared with 29 per cent five years ago. Around 575,000 new drivers are hitting the UK's roads every year with the number of cars rising by 2.4 million in five years.

But medium-sized cars such as the VW Golf, Ford Focus or Audi A3 are the vehicles motorists on the whole are most likely to drive or aspire to have. A quarter (25 per cent) of motorists drive this size of car and believe they are the most appropriate for their age group, while 15 per cent aspire to driving them. Just nine per cent wish to drive SUVs and eight per cent want a sports car.

The under-25s and motorists aged 45 to 54 break the mould on aspirations - they dream of driving luxury vehicles such as the BMW 8 series or Mercedes S Class even though they are most likely to drive small cars, such as a Renault Clio.

Analysis of official data2 found attitudes to car ownership varied for different life stages. It revealed what the key indicators are for people either buying their first car or changing their vehicle.

The data also shows getting a driving licence and owning a car is becoming more popular - the percentage of the British adult population with a full licence was 76.5 per cent before lockdowns compared with 73.3 per cent in 20142. The percentage of under-25s with licences increased to 36.7 per cent from 35.3 per cent over the same period while the percentage of 25 to 34-year-olds with licences rose 3.6 per cent to 73.6 per cent. With many drivers unable to take their test and secure a driver's licence in 2020, it was a challenge for many, but the trajectory of those who want one has continued to increase over time.

The life event that is most likely to drive someone to buy a new car is inevitably passing their driving test with 26 per cent saying that was their reason to buy. However, 16 per cent said starting a new job was their reason for buying, ahead of 11 per cent who bought because they started a family or after moving to a new area (also 11 per cent). Expanding their family was the reason for buying a car for eight per cent of people.

Lorraine Price, head of motor insurance at Direct Line, commented: 'The COVID-19 lockdowns and continued restrictions have inevitably put a slowdown, and on some occasions stop, in driving tests recently, but the trend of the past five years has been more drivers taking to the roads with more cars.

'Understanding what motivates people to buy cars and what they aspire to own is important for any organisation involved in the motor industry and it is interesting that people in general don't hanker after luxury cars and sports cars while preferring to stick with medium-sized vehicles.

'Of course, not everyone is the same and there is no one size fits all answer. It is normal to have different views among different age groups with a wide range of reasons for buying and owning cars. Despite restrictions making getting a driver's licence difficult this past year, it is clear to see many still have a desire to drive and own their own car.'

Direct Line's research found the main reason people buy cars and change cars is that their previous one was too old and unreliable, although substantial numbers swap cars because they fancy a change.

Table one: Leading reasons for changing vehicle in the UK

Reason for buying a new car

Why did you buy your current car?

Why did you buy previous cars?

Previous car was too old or unreliable

26 per cent

26 per cent

Fancied a change

16 per cent

16 per cent

Needed a car for work

13 per cent

16 per cent

Wanted to save money with a cheaper car to run

10 per cent

Nine per cent

I needed a car to be able to visit family or friends

Nine per cent

Eight per cent

I needed a bigger car because of children

Nine per cent

Nine per cent

Source: Direct Line Motor Insurance 2021

- ENDS -

Notes to Editors

1 Research commissioned with Opinium between 30th April and May 4th, 2021 among 2,007 UK adults.

2 Analysis of SMMT data on car sales, Department of Transport data on vehicle registrations and DVLA data on licence holders. Data analysed was for the years 2014 to 2019 inclusive.

For further information please contact:

Simon Henrick
Direct Line Group

Tel: 01651 831 668
Email: [email protected]

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel, and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting