COVID-19 Impact Assessment

COVID-19 Impact Assessment | May 2020

The latest issue of Sophus3's Covid-19 Impact Assessment is published today, monitoring the evolution of online traffic to car brands as lockdowns start to be relaxed in some markets. The report looks in detail at developments in the period up to the end of April with a particular focus on the 'Big 5' European markets, highlighting the variations between them.

The spread of the pandemic saw an immediate reduction in traffic to car brand sites as consumers focused on more immediate practical concerns and as car brands suspended their campaign activity that normally drives much of that traffic. Compared to March, visitor numbers were down a further -29% globally in April, with the European markets showing the biggest decline.

However, from the middle of April there  have been signs of a cautious recovery as, firstly, consumers settled into self-isolation and then as the conditions of lockdown began to be relaxed. From Easter a slow uptick in traffic was measured week-on-week with Germany, the first European market to open up, leading the way.


From that time we also begin to see an improvement in the key metrics of engagement, with reduced bounce rates combined with increased dwell times and page views. Although the overall size of the audience has shrunk considerably, the retained audience appears to be returning to more familiar patterns of behaviour.


The cars that online consumers are focusing on raise some interesting questions for manufacturers. Whilst SUVs continue to attract the highest volume of visitors, the shift in interest measured over the last month has been surprising. Traffic to SUVs has fallen whilst there was a huge increase in traffic to  the sports car segments – predictable perhaps as locked down consumers had more time to fantasise about their ideal car. However, what may be of more interest is the measurable rise in the number of views of small city cars. This may suggest that many consumers are looking at practical, low budget alternatives to public transport to meet their future journey-to-work needs. ‘Bubble car’ looks set to take on a whole new meaning post lockdown.

The latest data also provides encouragement to manufacturers of electric vehicles which were performing strongly both in the market and in terms of online interest at the start of the year before the crisis hit. Whilst interest was subsequently disrupted in line with the wider car market as the pandemic took hold, the recovery in interest in EVs since has been stronger than for other vehicle types. With talk of the introduction of scrappage schemes to assist car manufacturers, and the growing argument that such assistance needs to be aligned with environmental objectives, is there an opportunity to galvanise consumer interest in EVs and move them further into the mainstream?

If you are interested in receiving the full report, “Covid-19 Impact Assessment | May 2020” to understand in more detail the situation in each of the main European markets, then please contact us by emailing

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