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Car purchases hit by credit crunch

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The current economic downturn is affecting the car-buying habits of most Britons, according to research.

A survey by uSwitch.com found that as many as 77% of motorists have adjusted their purchasing plans due to the credit crunch.

A total of 15% are set to spend almost £3,000 less on their next car than on their current motor, while 26% say they are not able to afford a new vehicle at all.

And 47% of motorists will now hold on to their current car for longer than planned.

Only 18% of the 1,011 car owners polled said they were confident enough not to change their future car-buying plans.

The survey results come ahead of this week's latest official new car figures for October 2008. Despite the arrival of September's new 58-registration plates, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders figures show sales have dipped.

Ashton Berkhauer, insurance expert at uSwitch.com, said: "Some consumers are writing themselves out of the car-buying market entirely, some are reducing their planned spend while others are aiming to ride out the storm by holding onto their existing model for as long as possible. These are all strategies that will help consumers cope, but the impact they could have on both car sales and manufacturing could be huge."

© The Press Association 2008