Aussies Flock Online To Research Their Next Car Purchase

Exploring Aussies’ car buying habits: Savvy’s survey unveils trends in online research, AI skepticism, and influential platforms
Published on November 17th, 2023
  Written by 
Adrian Edlington
Adrian Edlington is PR & Communications Manager at Savvy. With a keen interest in personal finance, car loans, the mortgage industry, cost of living pressures, electric vehicles and renewable technology, Adrian's research includes conducting primary data surveys and analysis of up-to-the-minute secondary Australian data sources. His work on behalf of Savvy has been featured on ABC.net.au The Conversation, the Sydney Morning Herald, AFR, News.com.au, The Age, Herald Sun, Adelaide Now, SBS On The Money, 7News, Car Expert, Which Car, Drive.com.au and more. In his spare time, Adrian enjoys mountain biking and business podcasts.
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   Reviewed by 
Bill Tsouvalas


Bill Tsouvalas
Bill Tsouvalas is the managing director and a key company spokesperson at Savvy. As a personal finance expert, he often shares his insights on a range of topics, being featured on leading news outlets including News Corp publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, Fairfax Media publications such as the Australian Financial Review, the Seven Network and more. Bill has over 15 years of experience working in the finance industry and founded Savvy in 2010 with a vision to provide affordable and accessible finance options to all Australians. He has built Savvy from a small asset finance brokerage into a financial comparison website which now attracts close to 2 million Aussies per year and was included in the BRW’s Fast 100 in 2015 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. He’s passionate about helping Australians make financially savvy decisions and reviews content across the brand to ensure its accuracy. You can follow Bill on LinkedIn.
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As part of Savvy’s ongoing research into consumer habits and sentiments, we survey Australians on their research practice as they prepare to purchase a new (or new to them) car.

  • 72% of Australians say automotive review sites influence them most when researching new cars
  • Almost three-quarters (74%) of Australians are indifferent to AI's usefulness when researching a new car
  • 46% of 18-to-25 year olds say they would use social media to research their next car purchase
  • 72% of 55-64s and over 65s respectively say that manufacturer websites are an influence on their purchase

A representative survey (n=1,000) conducted by Savvy into attitudes towards automotive purchases by Australians has revealed that 72% of Australians find automotive review sites such as CarsGuide, Drive.com.au, or CarExpert as their most influential platform when researching the features and prices of new cars.

The male vs female split was near even (71% vs 72%) and the 35–44-year-old cohort had the highest support for automotive review websites at 81%.

This was followed by manufacturer websites at 66% and online forums or discussion groups at 42%.

Social media platforms were favoured among 18–24-year-olds (46%) as well as YouTube channels or videos at 33%. The 25–34-year-old demographic cited YouTube as an influential source, 39%, the highest number out of all demographics. The over 65s were most sceptical about using social media, with only 9% saying they regarded it as a research tool.

72% of 55–64-year-olds and the over 65s both said they look to manufacturer websites to research their next car purchase. 34% of 55 to 64s also rated automotive blogs or publications as influential, the highest level of support out of all cohorts surveyed.

Car Buying Habits Survey Infographic

Not yet driven to AI

Most Australians don’t feel artificial intelligence (AI) can help them with finding and choosing the right car to buy in the future, with 42% indifferent to the idea.

24% said it was “likely” with 2% saying it was extremely likely. 32% said it was either unlikely or not likely at all.

Men had slightly more confidence in AI’s usefulness for car selection than women (27% vs 20%) with 25-34s being the most supportive cohort at 35% total trust. Interestingly, 18-24s were just as unlikely to rely on AI (32%) as they were to rely on it (28%).

As to why transitioning to EVs is a better idea than sticking with petrol or diesel, almost all countries agreed that lower fuel costs were the top reason to switch; although Chinese consumers said that an EV’s better driving experience was the main reason. Concern about climate change was low in Asian countries (China 8th out of 9 reasons, Japan, and Korea 7th out of 9) but high in Western countries such as Australia (2nd), Germany (2nd), and the US (3rd.) Government subsidies was the second top reason to buy EVs in Japan and Korea. All countries unanimously voted that peer pressure was the least significant reason to change to EVs.   

Savvy's Spokesperson, Adrian Edlington, says that the use of AI as a decision-making and research tool is still in its infancy when it comes to automotive consumer purchases.

“Seventy-two percent of people read review sites because they trust the experience of a reviewer who may have ten, twenty, thirty years of motoring under their belt. People want to know how a car handles, if it has good storage options, or fuel economy – or range, in the case of electric vehicles.

“AI may have its place for fleet buying where analysing cars for cents per kilometre in terms of fuel efficiency matters over a large scale. Since an AI can’t and won’t be driving the car, it leaves the human element out entirely.

“Also, consumers may be using AI unwittingly already and simply not realise it. Increasingly, on page chat bots available to answer questions are powered by AI, which will only become more sophisticated as time goes on.”

Buying a Car In Australia

Are you in the market for a new car – or perhaps a car that’s new to you? A car is a significant purchase in anyone’s life – and researching your car is vital to ensure you get a car that’s right for you, your family, and your budget and lifestyle. Here is a primer on how to research a car and figure out which type of car is best for your situation.

Which online research platforms or options do you find influential when researching cars and their features? – by gender

Total1000499495 6
Manufacturer websites667 (66%)331 (66%)321 (65%)5 (83%)
Automotive review websites718 (72%)355 (71%)358 (72%)1 (17%)
Social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)223 (22%)97 (19%)125 (25%)1 (17%)
Online car forums and discussion groups421 (42%)211 (42%)207 (42%)3 (50%)
Online classifieds and car listing websites248 (25%)119 (24%)128 (26%)1 (17%)
YouTube channels or videos274 (27%)149 (30%)123 (25%)2 (33%)
Online car configurators or virtual showrooms170 (17%)87 (17%)83 (17%)-
Automotive blogs or online publications230 (23%)123 (25%)106 (21%)1 (17%)
Other59 (6%)25 (5%)34 (7%)-

*Respondents select top three choices

Source: Savvy Automotive Survey 2023, n=1000

How likely do you feel that AI can assist you in finding and choosing the right car to buy in the future? – by gender

Total1000499495 6
Not likely at all134 (13%)74 (15%)59 (12%)1 (17%)
Unlikely191 (19%)94 (19%)97 (20%)-
Neutral415 (42%)183 (37%)230 (46%)2 (33%)
Likely 240 (24%)136 (27%)101 (20%)3 (50%)
Extremely Likely20 (2%)12 (2%)8 (2%)-

Source: Savvy Automotive Survey 2023, n=1000

Buying a car: new, used, certified used

When buying a car, there are three options available to you; buying factory new, used from a car lot or private seller, or certified used from a dealer. There are several benefits to purchasing a used car over a new one, not the least of which being the lower price of a used car. When a new car is driven off the dealer lot for the first time, its value drops by around 15% to 20%. A private seller may be offering the customer a great deal if they need to sell quickly (though watch out for scams.) Dealers also sell certified used cars. These vehicles are often factory reconditioned and have less than three years of use, as well as an extended warranty attached.

How to research when buying a used car

New cars are easy to research, as there will be lots of information about them on manufacturer websites and automotive review sites. Newer, mainstream models available at dealerships will have extensive write-ups evaluating their pros and cons. However, when buying used, your research has to probe deeper than simply weighing up specifications, features, and performance.

There may be online forums dedicated to your chosen used vehicle – perhaps threads on forums or social media groups at the very least. If you are looking for a particular model with 100,000km on the odometer, these may give you an insight into how they handle and perform if you are looking at something similar. Some may warn you against a “money pit” as they approach prohibitively expensive maintenance levels.

Inspecting a used car from a private seller

Although buying from a dealer offers you warranties and cooling-off periods, purchasing from a private seller is typically less expensive on average, for an equivalent vehicle.

Make sure the vehicle is not reported as stolen or written off if you are buying from a private seller. By requesting the Vehicle Identification Number, you can use the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR) to do a check (VIN). Move on if your vendor is reluctant to share the VIN.

Prior to purchasing, you ought to have the vehicle subjected to an impartial safety examination to detect any damage or internal issues. You may occasionally recognise a second-hand car for what it is by getting a second opinion from a knowledgeable friend, or you can pay a professional inspector to examine the car. A test drive is the ultimate research when it comes to buying used – if it doesn’t feel right, work properly, or has anything else you aren’t happy with, walk away.

Savvy 2024 Car Buying Sentiments Survey; n=1000

Nationally representative survey of 1000 adult Australians, aged 18 and over. Conducted by Octopus Group, on behalf of Savvy.

Completion date: 2/09/2023

Age groups:18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64, 65+

Gender breakdown: male n=499, female n=495, non-binary /prefer not to say n=6

Representative of state and territory populations:

NSW n=320 (32.3%), Vic n=252 (25.1%), Qld n=194 (20.2%), SA n=75 (7.2%), WA n=108 (10.6%) NT n=9 (0.7%), Tas n=23 (2.2%), ACT n=19 (1.7%)

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This guide provides general information and does not consider your individual needs, finances or objectives. We do not make any recommendation or suggestion about which product is best for you based on your specific situation and we do not compare all companies in the market, or all products offered by all companies. It’s always important to consider whether professional financial, legal or taxation advice is appropriate for you before choosing or purchasing a financial product.

The content on our website is produced by experts in the field of finance and reviewed as part of our editorial guidelines. We endeavour to keep all information across our site updated with accurate information.

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Savvy is one of Australia’s largest online financial brokers, focusing on personal and commercial financial products. Founded in 2010, the firm has seen rapid growth, a testament to their provision of market leading rates and reaching customers with the latest in media and technology. Savvy is a proud supporter of Kids Under Cover, a charity assisting homeless and at-risk youth to strengthen their bonds to community and education. Savvy was named one of BRW’s fastest growing companies in 2015.

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