Press release

Retail Price Index | March 2019

Used cars holding value, but price growth eases in Q1

Despite challenging market conditions, not least ongoing fuel type confusion and the consumer uncertainty surrounding Brexit, used cars continue to hold their value, with the average sticker price of a second-hand car increasing 2.3% in March (£12,843). However, according to the latest findings from the Auto Trader Retail Price Index, it marks the slowest rate of price growth since August 2017 and follows three consecutive months of gradual easing, falling from 3.1% in January.

In terms of fuel type, prices of both second-hand diesel and petrol cars have experienced a similar trend. With an average sticker price of £14,306 in March, diesel prices continue to increase, however the rate of which has slowed: from a four year high of 2.9% in January 2019 to 2.2% last month.

Whilst this trend has been limited to Q1 for diesel, it’s been more protracted for petrol, with the rate of growth slowing consistently since December 2017 (7.4%). March’s average sticker price of £11,186 represents a year-on-year increase of just 2.4%; the lowest since January 2017.

EVs and larger vehicles remain bright spots

However, there remains several bright spots. For three consecutive months the rate of price growth for pure electric vehicles has steadily increased, reaching a significant 9.7% in March and an average price of £22,684.

What’s more, with the new and used car markets increasingly dominated by dual-purpose vehicles and crossovers, the Index revealed the average price of a larger vehicle[1], such as an SUV, 4x4 or MPV, has recorded 11 months of consecutive growth, albeit at a modest rate of 1% in March. However notably, it follows two years of sustained decline (February 2016 to April 2018). In March the average price of a larger vehicle was £19,186.

Commenting on the findings, Karolina Edwards-Smajda, Auto Trader’s Commercial Product Director, said: “There’s no question that used car prices remain buoyant, but there is a clear trend emerging of an easing of price growth. At this stage it’s hard to determine whether there is a direct correlation between wider industry challenges, but it is something we’ll keep a close eye on.

“The performance in both electric and larger vehicles is further evidence of the opportunity they offer; every other metric highlights the growing appetite amongst car buyers, not to mention their dominance at recent car shows. At a time when retailers are facing ongoing turbulence within the market, it’s vital their popularity is reflected on forecourts.”

Diesel searches are at an all-time low, as petrol reaches record popularity

Used diesels may well be holding their value but the number of people searching for them remains at a record low, with the struggling fuel type accounting for just 42% of all fuel related searches on Auto Trader.  

Petrol has, as a result, gained a stronger share, now accounting for more than half (51%) of all fuel related searches. This comes amid the launch of London’s new Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) on 8 April, which is part of the Mayor’s plan for tackling the Capital’s air pollution crisis. Whilst this has driven the popularity of alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFV) in the city, up to 11% of fuel searches, it’s yet to change the dial nationwide, remaining flat at 7%.

[1] ‘4x4 lifestyle cars’; ‘4x4 off-road cars’ ‘Premium 4x4 SUV’, ‘Multi Purpose Vehicle’, ‘Large cars’, and ‘Premium large cars’ categories, as defined by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders

This week we hosted our 2nd #DiversityandInclusion event in partnership with @ennisandco 80+ HR directors CEOs MDs & change leaders joined us at our London offices to share ideas & identify solutions for driving greater #diversityinauto Find out more here https://t.co/g3XfiuIITr https://t.co/WqZJD4V1S1
Just a few days left to enter the #ATAwards. If you needed any more reason to enter then take a listen to last year's 'Rising Star', Jacob Freshwater on how it's helped his business. Lines close on Monday 20th May, for more info & to enter, just visit: https://t.co/gV180jMxhE https://t.co/bAtvk7pLM9
Jesse Norman MP launching the @RMI_NFDA’s new EVA accreditation @EVApproved https://t.co/CB2fxAwwzI
We're looking forward to the official launch of the @RMI_NFDA Electric Vehicle Approved (EVA) scheme tonight. Endorsed by the Government's Office for Low Emission Vehicles & the Energy Saving Trust it's a brilliant way to stand out from competitors & build trust with car buyers https://t.co/jnPFz1AeWQ
Consumers like to buy from people like them, and we need to see more diversity in retailers and dealerships, Ian mentions at #FTCar summit
Consumers look for their next new car, they don’t simply think I’m looking for a brand new or used car, Ian tells the panel at #FTCar summit
Auto Trader’s @IanJPlummer is on the panel at the #FTCar summit talking about retail https://t.co/pyfK8JKLRO
“The industry isn’t doing enough to show the total cost of ownership of EVs and we are very close to price parity” says Rupert Mitchell, Chief Strategy Officer, WM Motor #FTCar
“There’s a flourishing second hand market in electric vehicles” says Vicky Edmonds, joint head, OLEV at #FTCar summit
A fantastic panel of industry executives representing various aspects of the automotive industry sharing their experience of delivering a D&I strategy into their business #diversityinauto https://t.co/haJGkIbL4I

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