Press release

Debate on diesel is misleading for motorists and unhelpful for industry, says Auto Trader

Auto Trader’s Market Report reveals that average used diesel car prices continue to increase and remain stable despite diesel debate.

  • Appetite for diesel cars still strong with consumers as diesel remains the nation’s most searched-for fuel type (55% fuel search share)
  • 47% of diesel car sellers say they are going back to diesel for their next car
  • Auto Trader says current focus and lack of clarity of diesel debate is not helping the Government’s clean air strategy

Auto Trader, the UK’s largest marketplace for new and used cars, published its September Market Report today, which contains findings that are a stark contrast to some of the news and discussions surrounding the fuel debate in recent months.

Comprising the opinions of c.13,000 motorists, as well as data and insight from Auto Trader’s marketplace, which attracts over 55million cross platform visits and hosts an average of 450,000 cars on site each month, Auto Trader’s latest Market Report reveals the full extent of the impact the debate on fuel has had on consumer buying/selling behaviour and retail prices for used cars.

In contrast to reports that average used diesel car prices have fallen in recent months, Auto Trader reveals that average diesel used car prices are in fact increasing. Diesel average price increases have been slowing in 2017, but August bucked this trend as increases returned to growth. The average price for a used diesel car rose by 6% (year-on-year) in August, showing an underlying like-for-like price increase of 2%, which had doubled from July.

Consumer appetite for used diesel cars hasn’t waned either. Auto Trader’s Market Report reveals that despite experiencing a steady decline which can be attributed to the negative coverage surrounding diesel engines, searches for diesel vehicles increased from May to August this year, and more consumers still search for diesel than any other fuel type (55%).

The insight obtained from Auto Trader’s marketplace mirrors the transactional data of the used car market, which was up a modest 1.3% from January to June this year1 , following a record-breaking year for used car transactions in 2016.

The sustained desirability for diesel cars amongst consumers was also evident with cars sellers. Of c.10,000 motorists that were surveyed whilst advertising their car for sale on Auto Trader during July and August, 47% of diesel owners said they were planning to buy another diesel engine for their next car, and only 10% said that the recent debate on diesel had influenced their decision to sell.

Studying over 60,000 vehicles advertised for private sale on Auto Trader during August, the proportion of private diesel adverts rose by only 0.3% year-on-year, suggesting that there is no significant increase in motorists selling their diesel cars and that motorists are generally unmoved by the diesel debate or the Government’s 2040 announcement.

However, the Report does highlight one key impact that the diesel debate has had on consumer behaviour, and that is increased confusion and anxiety on what these reported developments mean for motorists and the cars they own. Almost half of car buyers (49%) said that the news on fuel types over the last year had made the car buying process more challenging, and as a result, 35% admit they simply aren’t aware of the current pros and cons that the varied fuel types have to offer.

Nathan Coe, Auto Trader COO said “This sustained debate on fuel is a by-product of a big change in the industry, as car manufacturers, who share the same goals as the Government in improving air quality, make great strides to deliver cleaner, safer and more efficient cars every day.

“It might be tempting to focus on the negatives during periods of such change, but it’s crucial that the centre of the debate focusses on clearly landing the benefits and value of this change to motorists, rather than further energizing a narrative that stigmatises cars and threatens to penalise motorists.”

Analysing the road to 2040 and the key barriers for motorists when considering electric cars, Auto Trader’s Market Report revealed that upfront cost and infrastructure were two of the biggest concerns for motorists, with 49% and 48% agreeing they wouldn’t buy and electric vehicle due to these reasons respectively.

Yet despite this, motorists do show signs of environmental concern, with 74% claiming that the pollution caused by cars on UK roads is worrying and 48% agreeing that they are more concerned about car pollution now than they were 12 months ago.

The Report suggests this concern is not leading to action due to the emphasis of the current fuel debate as well as a lack of focus, clarity and investment needed to overcome the four key barriers to electric vehicles for consumers, which are: upfront cost, infrastructure, reliability and a lack of understanding.

Coe adds, “So far this debate has been misleading for many motorists and unhelpful for the automotive industry at large. By persisting the current debate, we run the risk of further confusing and alarming consumers which can affect car buying confidence, lead to ‘kneejerk’ behaviour and distract us from the most important focus of all, which is improving the cars on UK roads and our health as a result.”

About Auto Trader

Auto Trader Group plc is the UK and Ireland’s largest digital automotive marketplace. Auto Trader sits at the heart of the UK’s vehicle buying process and its primary activity is to help vehicle retailers compete effectively on the marketplace in order to sell more vehicles, faster. Auto Trader listed on the London Stock Exchange in March 2015 and is now a member of the FTSE 250 Index.

The marketplace brings together the largest and most engaged consumer audience. Auto Trader has over 90% prompted brand awareness and attracts an average of 60 million monthly cross platform visits a month, with circa 70% of visits coming through mobile devices.

The marketplace also has the largest pool of vehicle sellers (listing more than 470,000 cars each day). Over 80% of UK automotive retailers advertise on autotrader.co.uk.

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Auto Trader Group plc
Registered in England (Company number: 09439967)

Auto Trader Limited
Registered in England and Wales (Company number: 03909628)

Registered address:

1 Tony Wilson Place
Manchester
M15 4FN
VAT number: GB 614 8918 20

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