A survey of Americans has put numbers to the concept that Americans value safety and reliability more than ever. As the pandemic drags on, car owners are using personal transportation as a bubble, keeping them safe and healthy. 

The Safety First: The Evolution of Driving and Mobility in 2020 study was performed by Volvo Car USA and The Harris Poll in September and October, surveying more than 4,000 adults in the US. Critical data on the safety features customers desire as well as the role that cars play in daily operation, has been compiled to give insight into expectations as mobility evolves permanently due to the pandemic. 

  • According to the study results, the average consumer’s view on the term ‘safety’ has broadened in the past six months. Almost all respondents expect to continue using their personal vehicles more after the pandemic. Half plan to use public transportation less, almost the same as for ride sharing services. 
  • To consumers, homes and cars are seen as their safe spaces currently, particularly among the younger generations, and two-thirds of those under 40 have either bought a car or are considering buying one due to the pandemic. 
  • Buying from trusted, safety-conscious brands is important for four out of five buyers while flashy cars have fallen out of favor. 

Jim Nichols is the Senior Product and Technology Communications Manager with Volvo Car USA. He said of the findings, “As a brand with a deep-rooted legacy in safety, it was critical for us to uncover how Americans are rethinking their approach to safe behavior, both on-and-off the road. These findings confirm that safety is more important than ever to Americans in the wake of the pandemic.”

How the role of cars has been impacted by the pandemic

Driving is seen as a stress-reliever, according to nearly two-thirds of car owners, and more than half of parents with young children use the car as their temporary escape. Younger professionals have reported missing their commute on the basis of time to listen to music or podcasts or even just alone time. 

Also noteworthy are the desired features that have been sparked due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than half of respondents wished that their car had built-in germ filtering in the HVAC system, and they desired more accessible safety and sanitizing products with a designated mast storage spot or a phone sanitizer. 

Fifty-two percent want to see sanitizing included as part of common maintenance packages also, a factor that dealers can integrate into their service departments. 

Auto retailers can take advantage of new normals

In the auto retail industry, much of this study’s information can be implemented to provide the top-tier customer experience expected in today’s climate. Key takeaways for dealerships could be: 

  • Focus on the broader safety features in a vehicle. Along with airbags, body structure, safety glass, and seat belts in a sales walkaround, add in details about easily wipeable surfaces or the touchless aspect of Apple CarPlay or voice-controlled navigation. 
  • Modify sales techniques to the audience. Speak to the vehicle’s reliability, reduced maintenance frequency, and the ‘safe space’ mentality when presenting the benefits of buying a car. 
  • Sell remotely. Since safety is a major concern, take as many steps online or remotely as possible to provide the sense of safety for your shopper. Be available for a seamless in-person handoff at every step. 

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