LONDON -- Across Europe, customers wary of spending too much on a new car in uncertain economic times are snapping up older models as they seek to avoid using public transport during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Public transportation is terrific here, but with the COVID and all that, it's better to avoid it," said Robert Perez, who recently moved to Spain's capital Madrid from Argentina.
On the hunt for work, Perez, a 33-year-old automotive engineer, bought a red 2001 Seat Toledo for 2,000 euros ($2,370) from OcasionPlus, a Spanish used car company that has opened four new dealerships since the lockdown due to soaring demand.
Data provided to Reuters by research firm IHS Markit and online car market AutoScout24 showed there has been a marked upward shift in registrations of older cars across Europe, as well as an increase in Internet searches for aging vehicles.
The surge in interest in used cars is neither good news for struggling mass transit networks nor the environment as dirty old cars appear to be more in demand than new electric vehicles.
In the longer term, however, the shift away from public transport towards individual mobility in the pandemic era is expected to help automakers, hit by a 27 percent slump in new-vehicle sales across Europe in the first 10 months of 2020.