Press release

September Retail Price Index

Second-hand car prices and AFV popularity reach record highs in September  

Whilst the new car market feels the pinch from the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP) regulations, the used car market continues to show its resilience. Data from the Auto Trader Retail Price Index, revealed that the average price of a second-hand car reached a record high of £12,853 in September; a year-on-year increase of 5 per cent.

It follows a period of sustained growth for used prices, which have grown twice as fast as their new counterparts since the start of the decade. The average price of a used car has risen from £8,997 in 2011, to £12,731 in 2018, a significant 42 per cent increase in just seven years. In contrast, the average sticker price of a new car has grown just 19 per cent during the same period (£21,911 to £26,105).

The growth in average used prices can be attributed to knock-on effects of the rise in new car finance, which in 2017 accounted for 88 per cent of all new cars bought in the UK, compared to circa 50 per cent of sales a decade previously. With the average two to three-year ownership cycle of a Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) contract, there has been an increase in younger, more advanced and, crucially, more valuable, second-hand cars entering the market, driving average prices up.

Auto Trader data reveals that these modern second-hand cars are increasing in popularity, helping to drive overall used car sales volumes in recent years. Over the past five years, sales of used cars aged less than three years old have increased by nearly a third (32 per cent), whilst sales of five-year-old and ten year-old-cars have dropped by three per cent and 7 per cent respectively.

In terms of specific fuel types, the average price of a second-hand diesel in September was £14,551; a 4 per cent like-for-like increase on the same period last year. For a used petrol car, consumers paid £11,043 on average last month, which was a 6 per cent year-on-year increase.

AFV popularity records ‘significant growth’ in September

At a time when alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) are the only fuel type to record growth (3.9%[1]) in the new car market, second-hand AFVs are continuing to reach record levels of popularity. In September zero emission vehicles (including: diesel/petrol hybrid, electric, bi-fuel, and petrol ethanol) accounted for 6 per cent of all fuel related searches on its marketplace. It marks a 2 per cent increase in just two months (5 per cent in August 2018). The sudden growth in popularity is significant as AFV related searches remained flat at 4 per cent between July 2017 and July 2018.

Interestingly, despite a huge fall in new car registrations in September, diesels remain a popular option on Auto Trader, accounting for 48 per cent of all fuel related searches last month, remaining flat on the previous month. Petrol however saw a slight fall in searches, dropping from 46 per cent of searches in August, to 45 per cent in September. 

Commenting on the findings, Auto Trader’s Director of Commercial Products, Karolina Edwards-Smajda, said: “Whether it’s the ongoing Brexit and fuel type anxieties denting consumer confidence, or new WLTP regulations, the industry has faced unprecedented challenges this year. However, our data highlights just how resilient the used car market has been despite these turbulences and importantly, the opportunities available for retailers.

“Whilst it might only currently account for around 35 per cent of purchases, as younger, more desirable and more valuable vehicles reach forecourts, we can expect the appetite for used car finance to surge. Car buyers often complain that they’re put off by the complex and confusing finance process, so simplifying it and using clear, jargon-free language, will be the key to capitalising on the increase in consumers looking to pay monthly for their next car.”

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 (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.

- 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 visit https://plc.autotrader.co.uk

For more information, please contact Andrew Nankervis | andrew.nankervis@autotrader.co.uk

 [1] Society of Motor Manufacturers and Trader: new car registrations September 2018

How did @UKVolkswagen's no.1 franchised retailer influence 66% of its new car sales on Auto Trader? Here's our new car product lead, David, to explain. For more information on how we can take your brand new cars out of hiding, just visit https://t.co/Zsb9UUlb4i https://t.co/IdIsrkydjx
Don't miss the next #ARNLive on 6th Feb. @perrysmotors' MD Darren Ardron, @HowardsGroup's Peter Haynes & AT's COO Catherine Faiers will join Al Clarke to share their views on the market & offer their tips on success in 2020. Register your place here: https://t.co/owxmLkC043 https://t.co/e7wFgJL1ef
We know first hand just how infectious @sharonashcroft's passion for #DiversityandInclusion is. What she & her team have achieved at @trustford is beyond impressive. If you're looking for inspiration on how to embed a more diverse culture into your business, look no further! https://t.co/BxW35GK1kl
In 2019 we saw circa 2.5 billion advert views of use and new cars on our marketplace. We've seen the most viewed used cars, but what was the most popular new car? The no.1 spot goes to the iconic Volkswagen Golf 🏆 You can find out more here: https://t.co/9YsOqbDeht https://t.co/mHOmWE5MbN
We're seeing some great pieces of coverage announcing the official launch of Dealer Auction yesterday. Find out how this independent company with the combined expertise of @CoxAutomotiveUK & Auto Trader is set to transform the wholesale market https://t.co/rHSBROgeFf
Based on advert views, German marques were the most popular used cars last year. The @BMW_UK 3 Series topped the list as the most viewed second hand car on our market place in 2019. Find out more here: https://t.co/9YsOqbDeht https://t.co/txZZXeyI7B
As part of its commitment to drive diversity in auto the NFDA recently held its 1st Drive my Career networking event for female apprentice technicians.Over 40 joined HR execs from across the industry to share thoughts on attracting female talent. Read more https://t.co/o4xuN1qJiG https://t.co/RXFr3s9ilX
Following details of last year's new car performance from the @SMMT why not take a look at 2019's most popular new cars on Auto Trader? Our report reveals what makes, models & body types received the most views, as well as the nation’s favourite features https://t.co/KX9m29AEM9 https://t.co/WOxFlpA5oF
"A slight uptick in sales may have closed the year off on a positive note, but 2019’s overall disappointing new car performance will come as little surprise to anyone on the front line." Read our response to the @SMMT's December new car registrations here https://t.co/r1B5OcDZLl https://t.co/lrj4nPMFJp
Consumers weren't only eating mince pies and watching the Queen's speech over the festive period...they were looking for their next car too. Don't miss out on the New Year rush; make sure your cars can be found on the UK's largest digital automotive marketplace. https://t.co/OkO8BkBF2g

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