The average price of a new driver’s first car is now more than £6,500, according to new research, and young drivers are relying on their parents to help fund their motoring.
Almost half of under-25s are turning to the bank of mum and dad to help get them on the road after passing their test, with 48% getting some financial assistance to buy their first car. In 16% of cases, parents paid the full price of their child’s first set of wheels, stumping up £10,000 or more in one in 10 instances.
Figures from used car marketplace Cinch show that the cost of drivers’ first cars is also higher than ever, with an average asking price of £6,600 in 2022. That is partly because almost half (47%) of image-conscious under-25s are opting for a car that’s one year old or newer.
The current average is significantly higher than the price paid by those who bought their first car between 2010 and 2017, who paid on average £4,173 for their first vehicle. In the 2000s, the average price of a first car was £3,090.
The survey of young motorists suggests that many receive indirect help from their parents as well, including the savings made by still living in the family home rather than owning or renting their own place.
More than two thirds (67%) of those aged under 30 who spent £10k or more on their first car said they still lived at home with their parents. And for many, the savings appear to be a key factor in that decision. Over a third of drivers under 30 (36%) said they would rather have a nice car and live with their parents than have a cheap runaround and live by themselves.
Many young adults are using payment plans to afford a more expensive first car. The research found that 14% of those aged 25 and under who bought their first car in the last year did so on finance - spending £230 a month on average, although 14% spent more than £400 a month.
Today’s first-time drivers are also placing a premium on high-tech features that were only a pipedream in their parents’ day. More than a fifth (22%) expect a touchscreen display and 18% expect heated seats. One in ten (9%) even expect their car to be able to park itself.
Sam Sheehan, motoring expert at Cinch, said: “More than ever, first time drivers are stepping into nearly-new cars - with the average age of the first car now standing at just four years old. Younger people today are more image-conscious than ever before, with social media likely playing a role.
“As such, many want a newer, more aspirational car that they can show off. The bank of mum and dad is definitely playing a role, but the data also shows that many drivers in their early 20s are prepared to spend a lot of their own money on a car. The availability of affordable monthly payment plans makes owning a nice car more achievable for younger drivers.”