The coronavirus pandemic has led to Gen-Z making a u-turn on their attitude towards the car. The generation of 18-24 year-olds are thought to be the least car-loving generation of all, but recent events may well have changed that.

New research from Auto Trader has revealed that more youngsters are looking to buy a car, with it registering a year-on-year increase in searches by 18-24 year-olds on its online marketplace.

From 1st June-20th September, 15 percent – 5.7 million people – of Auto Trader's total audience was aged 18-24, up from just six percent in the same period last year. More than a quarter (27 percent) of Auto Trader’s current audience are aged 25-34 years old, too.

While most younger would-be drivers have put off taking the wheel until their late 20s in recent years, the pandemic has led to many changing their minds as they look to steer clear of public transport.

Young man inspecting used car before buying

"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," said Auto Trader's Rory Reid. "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-Zers who are looking for more environmentally friendly options."

The trend is backed up by an increase in the number of those wanting to learn to drive. RED, the largest driving school in the country, has registered a 100 percent increase in website activity, while in the past four weeks alone, it had 43,664 enquiries, compared to 17,500 for the same period last year, a 40 percent increase.

"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," said RED CEO Ian McIntosh. "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."