Press release

Retail Price Index | January 2019

Diesel values remain resilient despite declining searches

  • Diesels remain resilient, as rate of price growth outperforms petrol (4.5% vs 3.7%)
  • Searches for diesels fall to all-time low of 45% whilst petrol reaches record high of 48%
  • Average price of a used car in January was £13,025; a like-for-like increase of 4.1% YoY

With sales of used diesels increasing 0.3%[1] in 2018, the latest findings from the Auto Trader Retail Price Index further highlight the resilience of the much-maligned fuel-type.

Last year the rate of price growth for used diesels steadily accelerated from just 2.6% in January 2018, to 4.5% in January 2019. At an average price of £14,514 last month, it equates to the highest rate of growth for diesel since August 2018.

In contrast, 2018 saw a gradual easing in the rate of growth for petrol prices. In January 2018, petrol prices grew at a rate of 10.7%, but last month’s average price of £11,374 represented an annual like-for-like increase of just 3.7%.

Whilst the latest industry results reported sales of second-hand alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) had increased 26.9%[2] in 2018, the Index, which combines and analyses data from c. 500,000 trade used car listings every day, reported a similar slowing down of used prices as petrol last year, albeit at a less precipitous rate. In January 2018 the rate of growth for a second-hand AFVs was 8.4%, but with an average sticker price of £21,399 last month, the rate of price growth has decreased to 4.6%.

In terms of the whole market, the average price of a used car reached £13,025 in January; which on a like-for-like basis equates to a 4.1% increase on the same period last year.

Commenting on the findings, Karolina Edwards-Smajda, Auto Trader’s Commercial Product Director, said: “Fuel represents just one in five searches on our marketplace, so whilst the sustained decline in diesel is significant, it’s not representative of all consumers. Rather, with the percentage of fuel searches declining from 25% to 20% in just 18 months, it highlights that car buyers are becoming increasingly agnostic. Our research consistently shows that they’re not limiting their search to a type, but instead considering all as part of their next car journey; new, used, petrol, diesel, or electric. Retailers should be marketing to them accordingly.”

Used diesels leave forecourts quicker

Auto Trader data also reveals that diesel is consistently the fastest selling fuel type for used cars. In fact, throughout 2018, 67% (8 in 12) of the monthly top fastest selling used cars were a diesel. In total, 57% of the used cars featured on the monthly top 10 lists in 2018 were diesel.

Diesel searches fall below petrol for the first time

Each month, 21% of all searches on Auto Trader are based on fuel. In January, the searches attributed to diesel fell to an all-time low of 45%; the first time ever it has dropped below petrol, which at 48% of all fuel related searches, marks an all-time high.  

It follows two years of steady decline for diesel searches, gradually falling from a high of 71% of all fuel related searches in November 2016. In contrast, petrol has slowly increased from 26% during the same period. The trend was sparked following a High Court ruling which found the government’s plan for tackling the UK’s air pollution crisis was poor. Subsequent promises of a tougher stance on diesel vehicles and emissions set the negative tone of the fuel-debate, which continues today. 

The trend was slow to influence AFVs on Auto Trader. Searches attributed to AFVs remained flat at 4% until July 2018, before steadily increasing to 7% in October, from where it has remained since. 

- ENDS-

About the Retail Price Index

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 (manufacturer, fleet and leasing disposal prices, in addition to pricing data from over 3,000 car dealership websites), ensuring the Index is the most accurate reflection of the live retail market.

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 88% prompted brand awareness and attracts an average of 55 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 450,000 cars each day). Over 80% of UK automotive retailers advertise on autotrader.co.uk.

For more information, please visit http://about-us.autotrader.co.uk

[1] Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders used car transactions 2018: February 2019

[2] Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders used car transactions 2018: February 2019

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