Press release

Petrol closes in on diesel as UK’s most popular fuel type

Petrol and diesel were neck and neck for the top spot in consumer searches on Auto Trader in June, according to the Auto Trader Retail Price Index.

  • Petrol is close to overtaking diesel in popularity on Auto Trader, the UK’s largest digital automotive marketplace
  • Searches for petrol vehicles hit 46% in June as searches for diesel fell to 47%, continuing a long-term decline
  • Hybrid and electric popularity remains low, despite a 67% annual increase in listings
  • The average price of a used car in the UK held flat in June at £12,675

Diesel continued a long-term decline to hit a low of 47% of all searches by fuel type. Petrol, meanwhile, crept up to account for 46% of all searches. This marks a dramatic shift over the last two years; in June 2016, diesel accounted for 71% of searches and petrol just 27%. 

Hybrid and electric popularity remains low despite an increase in listings

Hybrid and electric vehicles are still failing to gain traction with consumers, with searches for alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) totalling just 4% in June.[1] This figure has increased by only two percentage points in the last two years (Jun 2016: 2%), despite growing publicity around electric vehicles and the government’s pledge to end the sales of conventional petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040.

However, the volume of AFVs listed on Auto Trader increased by 67% between June 2017 and June 2018. Petrol hybrids and petrol plug-in hybrids are by far the most common type of AFV sold on Auto Trader, accounting for 85% of all price observations.

Commenting on the findings, Karolina Edwards-Smajda, Auto Trader’s Director of Commercial Products, said: “These figures underline the lack of momentum in electric and hybrid take up to date. Consumers are hearing negative noises around diesel, but confusion and a lack of clarity means they’re responding with either inaction, or by shifting to another fuel type that they know and understand - petrol. Petrol is the clear winner so far from the campaign to ‘demonise diesel’.”

"In the new car market, if current sales trends continue it should only be a few years until AFVs overtake diesel in sales volumes. But to reach this tipping point there is still a lot of work to do to convince consumers that AFVs are a practical and accessible option.”

Average used vehicle prices flat in June

Average used vehicle prices remained steady in June, with a decline in diesel prices balanced by an increase in petrol. The average price of a used vehicle was £12,675, a £1 decrease month-on-month but a £1,016 increase on June 2017. This represents a 7% increase year-on-year on a like-for-like basis (stripping out the impact of changes in the mix of cars being sold[2]).

Used diesel prices pulled down by mid-age vehicles

The average price of a used diesel vehicle listed on Auto Trader was £14,416 in June, a £32 decrease on May but a 6% increase on June 2017 on a like-for-like basis. The month-on-month decrease was driven entirely by vehicles within the five to ten year old age bracket, with month-on-month increases for all other age categories.

Petrol continued to storm ahead, with the average price of a used petrol vehicle increasing by £27 month-on-month to £10,760, 9% up on June 2017 on a like-for-like basis.

Karolina continued: “Prices of younger diesel vehicles continue to rise – the average price of a nearly-new diesel shot up by £107 in June - but this month we’ve seen a drop in price of diesel vehicles in the five to ten year old age bracket.

“Diesel will continue to play an important role for consumers for a long time to come, and it’s important that the government balances its messages on this to avoid alarming and confusing consumers further.”

The Auto Trader Retail Price Index combines and analyses data from c.500,000 trade used car listings every day, as well as additional dealer forecourt and website data (OEM, fleet and leasing disposal prices, in addition to pricing data from over 3,000 car dealership websites and data from major auction houses across the UK), ensuring the Index is an accurate reflection of the live retail market. Auto Trader is the UK’s largest digital automotive marketplace, with more than 450,000 cars listed each day.

Searches on Auto Trader by fuel type graph 

Auto Trader Retail Price Index graph

- ENDS-

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 around 90% prompted brand awareness and attracts circa 55 million monthly cross platform visits each month, with over 70% of visits coming through mobile devices.

The marketplace also has the largest pool of vehicle sellers (listing around 450,000 cars each day). Around 80% of UK automotive retailers advertise on autotrader.co.uk.

For more information, please contact Amy Hurnell | amy.hurnell@autotrader.co.uk   

[1] On average, 20% of all searches that take place on Auto Trader each month are based on fuel type

[2] Mix is determined by Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders segment, age of vehicle and fuel type

We've got something very exciting launching soon... Wednesday 7th October, save the date 👀 #RPM https://t.co/op0RVqngLN
The @KiaUK Sorento is currently the UK’s fastest selling car, taking an average of just 24 days to turn on UK forecourts according to our Fastest Selling Index. #atinsightoftheday #kia #mazda #peugeot #mercedes-benz https://t.co/0amym8KyIK
Join us on Thursday at 10am for our next #webinar to hear our latest #automotiveindustry updates and #insights and to hear from our CEO, Nathan Coe and @MarshallMotorGp Register now >https://t.co/knn3yUlJ3l https://t.co/HaxCu2EFss
Nathan Coe, our CEO, shared an update with our customers today reassuring them that Boris' announcement earlier this week has had no negative impact on consumer demand. Read Nathan's full thoughts on our latest blog post: https://t.co/sx37kiEHBY
Used car prices continue to climb with last week seeing overall used car prices increase by 7.7%, up from 7.4% the week before and the 20th week of consecutive price growth. #atinsightoftheday #usedcar #Pricing #Petrol #diesel #ElectricCars https://t.co/dmR56DmzNf
Following this week’s government announcement, @stuart_trader, @ClarkRjoclark and @therickw got together to share with you our latest #data & #insights and why there should be no cause for concern in the #AutomotiveIndustry. Watch now at https://t.co/Bch7T5zgYf https://t.co/fTBAjSqCzU
A large segment of buyers believe that owning a car is more important now than it was pre-#COVID19. With that in mind, have you experienced a surge in demand and how have you adapted to meet it? #atinsightoftheday #cardealers https://t.co/J7IikqsNyW
In light of yesterday’s @GOVUK announcement about the new #COVID19 restrictions, our CEO Nathan Coe provides you with the latest #automotive market update and reveals that all indications suggest that consumer demand will continue to remain strong https://t.co/k9dMUo0zCb
Simplifying the car buying process is key to ensuring buyers get their perfect car with ease. So what are you doing and what do you think still needs to be done to simplify the car buying journey? #atinsightoftheday https://t.co/IBp0CHzBgK
The Auto Trader Retailer Awards are back for 2020 in an all new digital format. Register now and join us live to find out if you are one of this year's winners > https://t.co/KwMTCYTfu9 https://t.co/pdnGmFmWcZ

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

Keep in touch

We use social media to speak to the UK’s largest car buying audience