October marks a record for AFV popularity and used prices
As the latest used car results revealed that second-hand alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) grew at a record rate during the last quarter (28.6%), Auto Trader saw a similar trend on its marketplace. Over the last three months the percentage of fuel related searches attributed to AFVs has increased from 4 per cent in July, to 7 per cent in October, having remained flat for 12 months prior (July 2017 – July 2018).
Despite the ongoing negative rhetoric surrounding the fuel debate, the increase in searches for AFVs has come largely at the expense of petrol rather than diesel. Whilst diesel has remained flat at 48 per cent of fuel related searches since August 2018, petrol has dipped from 46 per cent to 45 per cent, its lowest since March 2018.
With 55 million multi-platform visits each month, an audience four times larger than its closest competitor, Auto Trader is the UK’s largest automotive marketplace for new and used cars, offering an unparalleled view of the nation’s consumer buying behaviour. Based on its current trajectory, AFVs are expected to account for 1 in 10 (10%) of all fuel related searches on Auto Trader by early 2019.
The growing popularity of used AFVs was reflected in the number of low emission vehicles tracked by the Auto Trader Retail Price Index, which 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). From October 2017 - October 2018, the Index recorded a 34 per cent increase in AFVs being sold. Much of the growth has come from an increase in petrol hybrids and petrol plug-ins.
The Index showed that in October the average price of a second-hand alternatively fuelled vehicle was £20, 573, which marks a respectable 3 per cent annual growth. Looking at specific types of AFVs however, the average price of a pure electric vehicle (£19,475) increased 13 per cent year-on-year; the largest growth of any other fuel type tracked by the Index.
Commenting on the findings, Karolina Edwards-Smajda, Auto Trader’s Director of Commercial Products, said: “Every possible bellwether and metric is pointing to a significant uptake in low emission cars, in both the new and the used markets. The technology is more sophisticated, finance is making them more accessible, and above all, the consumer is more informed, which means the traditional barriers to entry are becoming less of an issue. The trajectory for greater adoption is looking very promising, however, the government’s road to zero ambitions are still a long way to being realised. They’re hampered by an at best confusing rhetoric that seems more focused on penalising fossil fuelled drivers, rather than rewarding those embracing new technologies.”
Used diesels demonstrate resilience in October
The average price of a used car last month was £12,965; a 5 per cent increase on October 2017. It marks the lowest rate of growth in used car prices since August 2017.
And whilst sales of second-hand petrol- and diesel-powered cars recorded a decline over the last quarter (-2.3 per cent and -2.6 per cent), the Index revealed they’re continuing to hold their value. In October, the average price of a used petrol car was £11,092 and a diesel was £14,587; an increase of 4 per cent and 3 per cent respectively. It marks petrol’s lowest rate of price growth since March 2017.
Edwards-Smajda continued: “Despite the confusing rhetoric used diesel continues to show its resilience. Not only are they holding their value but are in fact increasing in price. However, whilst it’s reassuring to see diesel perform so stoically, the writing is clearly on the wall. As the barriers to mass adoption of low-emission cars continue to fall, it’ll be interesting to see how long they’ll be able to hold their own, especially if the government chooses to incentivise consumers to make the switch from fossil to electric.”
 Society of Motor Manufacturer and Traders: Used car transactions Q3 2018
 ComScore MMX® Multi-Platform, Total Audience, Auto Trader, Average of Total Visits from Apr- Sept 2018, U.K.
 Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders: used car transactions Q3 November 2018