How digitalisation is changing car-buying behaviour

In the long term, COVID-19 could have a sustained influence, both positive and negative – on mobility, driving changes in the macroeconomic environment, regulatory trends, technology, and consumer behaviour. The ramifications of the pandemic have changed all industries, with some transformed forever by the acceleration of ever more digital retail experiences for consumers. We will attempt to deepen our understanding of this.

Today, most people love the idea of getting products delivered to them and the pandemic has further accelerated this movement with “doorstep delivery” becoming a mantra for brands.

More customers emphasise health, safety, and reliability

Based on a 2020 research paper from McKinsey & Company, journey time, cost and convenience have traditionally played key deciding roles when it came to customers choosing their desired transport modes. Due to the severity of COVID-19, reducing the risk of infections is the top reason many travellers make those choices, overtaking even the journey time in importance. That is the case for both private and business trips. Interestingly, the trip price has lost relevance, especially for private travel. (Five COVID-19 Aftershocks Reshaping Mobility’s Future, 2020)

Reducing the risk of infection has become the primary reason for the choice of a mode of transportation

The chart above shows that priorities have changed; the risk of infection was at the bottom half of the chart but leaps to the top as a direct result of the pandemic. Consumers are likely to choose a mode of transport that ensures they are distanced away from others, so private modes of mobility like cars and bikes could impact public transportation demand. (Five COVID-19 Aftershocks Reshaping Mobility’s Future, 2020)

Car ownership has evolved worldwide, and Malaysia is catching up

With economies returning to normalcy over the coming months, a consumer’s vehicle purchase intent is getting more robust, driven by pent-up demand during the various stages of lockdowns. Based on the 2020 EY Mobility Consumer Index, age groups between 24 and 39 will be driving up car ownership worldwide as they seek personal mobility.

And that rings true in Malaysia as well, as COVID-19 has changed people’s attitudes toward car ownership. The report found that nearly a third (31 percent) of non-car owners expressed intention to buy a car in the months Nov 2020 to May 2021, with the impact of the pandemic being a top reason for doing so. We could see a similar push happening now as restrictions ease up. (Millennials to Lead COVID-induced Car Ownership Boom – EY Survey, 2020)

At EON Berhad (“EON”), we are primed to provide the best possible service to all our customers. By developing and adopting a digital-first approach to enable a ‘contactless’ experience for our customers across our sales and after-sales touchpoints.

The future is electric, with Malaysia’s charging network still growing

Ever since Budget 2022 was presented in October last year, the buzzword has been “EVs” or electric vehicles. Globally, this sector has progressed by leaps and bounds, especially in the west, but within Malaysia, adoption has been slow. Beyond encouraging the public to switch to EVs for sustainability reasons, the economic push is also there for Malaysia to invest in greener tech. Public charging stations remain a challenge, with charging infrastructure lacking outside major cities. (Foong, 2021)

There is hope, however, as several initiatives have been announced by both the Government and the private sector to close this gap. With Malaysia now declaring its aim to be carbon neutral in 28 years (2050), this should spur the right policies and laws to help us reach this enviable target. Once the station count rises, the demand for EVs should rise accordingly. (Foong, 2021)

Business Today projected that almost six million battery packs will be retired from electric vehicles per year by 2030. That number would also eventually include those from ridesharing fleets. The aim would be that these packs can be repurposed for secondary usage – and even used to build remote substations for storing electricity from renewable energy sources. (Foong, 2021)

Buying a car online has never been easier, the online showroom experience

In light of the rise of EVs, Google’s data stations have shown that more than 90% of car buyers have turned to online sources of information like YouTube, and professional and consumer reviews.

Their expectations include a much faster turnaround to their queries. It is reported that 56% of car buyers say they visit a dealer’s website during their research journey, which is up from 40% in 2017, while 60% of car buyers research online to find their local dealership — an increase of more than 10 percentage points from 2016. (Bansal, n.d.)

The pandemic has changed business as we know and see it. And as automakers shift to moving cars again, understanding the new ways people shop and buy, as well as customer expectations, will be key to failure or success.


  • Bansal, N. (n.d.). 3 trends driving the auto industry’s shift to dealer digitization. Think with Google. Retrieved March 3, 2022, from

  • Five COVID-19 aftershocks reshaping mobility’s future. (2020, September 17). McKinsey. Retrieved March 3, 2022, from

  • Foong, L. (2021, April 28). Accelerating Ev Adoption In Malaysia. BusinessToday. Retrieved March 3, 2022, from

  • Kumar, P. (2020, March 18). 90% buyers research online before showroom visit: How digital platforms affect car buying decision. The Financial Express. Retrieved March 3, 2022, from

  • Millennials to lead COVID-induced car ownership boom – EY survey. (2020, November 12). EY. Retrieved March 3, 2022, from