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.

After steadily increasing for 7 months, the average price of a used car reached an all-time high of £12,977 in Dec. Average diesel prices declined from a high of £14,661 in Oct. to £14,536, whilst petrol reached a record of £11,288. You can read more here: https://t.co/X9MZLisV4Y https://t.co/UMAknC3frw
On an annual basis, the percentage of fuel related searches attributed to diesel have declined 40% since 2016, whilst searches for alternatively fuelled vehicles have shot up 130% and pure electric 179%. Get the full story here: https://t.co/X9MZLisV4Y https://t.co/WcwRX0vf1b
The latest results from the Auto Trader Retail Price Index revealed that the average cost of a used car last year was £12,542; an annual increase of +5%. Second-hand diesels held their value, increasing +3%, whilst petrol grew +7%. You can read more here: https://t.co/X9MZLisV4Y https://t.co/3o4PbNwElY
The FLA reports consumer finance declined -1% in November, reflecting a slowing market. In reality finance is fuelling sales & with prices steadily increasing will be key to unlocking different types of consumer in 2019. Read more in our Market Report https://t.co/lnN0L8ykH2 https://t.co/GU3GI37Oeo
Did you know we've combined Part Ex valuations and Dealer Finance to give you even better quality leads? You can find out more by listening to our recent dedicated webinar: https://t.co/H1yf8kWPnS https://t.co/MMgcsLMFrO
According to the @SMMT, the new car market in 2018 recorded a -6.8% decline on 2017. Diesel dropped nearly -30% but the big winner was AFV, increasing +20.9%. With an array of 2nd gen electric vehicles set to hit the market, will 2019 see the popularity of EVs surge even more? https://t.co/Y6Na7afAJq
Happy 2019! Hopefully not too many sore heads this morning. Remember, December's browsers are ready to be turned into January's buyers - make sure your ads stand out from the crowd with these top tips https://t.co/x8MACPb8S3 https://t.co/x6Zv6U9RkJ
Happy new year to all our customers, partners & friends. Despite what's been a challenging year for the industry both the new & used markets have shown incredible resilience, with both ending 2018 in solid health. That's worth raising a glass to! Cheers https://t.co/zS1WlTUoxt
Auto Trader is a company made up of 800 people committed to providing our customers, car buyers and colleagues with the very best service, platform and work place possible. We're very proud to have received lots of recognition for that commitment in 2018 #proud https://t.co/cC55R67WP0
Did you know that 52% of consumers starting the car buying process already claim to consider the cost of a car as a monthly price, rather than the full retail price? Finance is now central to the car buying process & getting it right, will be key to growth in 2019. https://t.co/yW6gBn0ELO

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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