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.

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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

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