Press release

Used diesel prices record increase in 2017 but fuel debate impacts popularity

Used cars record 4% price increase (like-for-like) in 2017.

  • Diesel prices increased 2% (like-for-like) last year
  • Diesel searches fall in-line with anti-diesel rhetoric

11th January 2018, London – According to the latest results from the Auto Trader Retail Price Index, the average price of a used car was £11,819 in 2017; which on a like-for-like basis (stripping out the impact of changes in the mix of cars being sold 1) equates to a 4% increase on 2016. Despite the significant drop in new diesel car registrations last year (-17% 2), the value of used diesels recorded an average price of £13,944 in 2017, an annual like-for-like price growth of 2% for the year as a whole. The average price of a petrol car was £9,471, representing an increase of 7% on a like-for-like basis for the year.

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.

Used prices stabilise in December

Following a -£50 month-on-month dip in November, 2017 ended on a positive note, with the average price of a used car increasing £194/1.5% in December to £12,783. On an annual like-for-like basis prices were up 6% on December 2016.

When analysing average retail prices by fuel type, diesel prices recorded a drop of -£143 between October and November. However, prices stabilised in December, increasing £71 on the previous month, with an average of £14,483. This represents a 3% like-for-like increase on December 2016.

Prices of used petrol cars have continued to outperform diesel in 2017. Between November and December, prices increased £283, to an average of £10,625. On a like-for-like basis, prices of used petrol cars have grown 11% between December 2016 and December 2017.

Commenting on the findings, Karolina Edwards-Smajda, Auto Trader’s Retailer and Consumer Product Director, said: “It’s extremely heartening to see that despite the ongoing economic uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the negative tone of the fuel debate, used diesel prices are retaining their value. The Government’s demonisation of diesel really isn’t helping to build consumer confidence, and nor is it justified as many modern Euro 6 engines are less harmful than their petrol equivalents. Diesels remain an excellent option for many motorists, particularly those that drive long distances and are looking for the efficiency only a diesel can offer.”

Negative commentary impacting diesel searches

Auto Trader’s marketplace attracts 55 million cross platform visits a month, and as such provides a useful barometer for consumer purchasing intentions.

On average, 22% of all searches that take place on Auto Trader each month are based on fuel type. In November 2016, 71% of car buyers selecting a fuel type when searching on Auto Trader chose diesel. However, this fell during 2017 in-line with anti-diesel rhetoric, dropping to an annual low of 54% in December 2017. Comparing the total volume of diesel searches across the year, the number of searches for diesels on Auto Trader fell -27% between 2016 and 2017.

Looking at the share of searches for petrol over the same period, in November 2016 petrol accounted for 26% of all fuel related searches on Auto Trader. As the share of searches for diesel fell during 2017, petrol increased, reaching a high of 43% in May 2017. The figure has since declined slightly, accounting for 41% of all fuel related searches in December 2017.  Annually, the total volume of searches for petrol grew 28% between 2016 to 2017.

2017 saw significant movement in the share of fuel related searches for alternatively fuelled vehicles (electric, hybrid, bi fuel, LPG and petrol ethanol) on Auto Trader. At the beginning of the year, alternatively fuelled vehicles accounted for less than 3% of all fuel related searches, however in December 2017, the figure reached over 4%. Annually, between 2016 and 2017, this equated to a 65% increase in volume of searches for AFVs, with electric alone recording a huge jump of 84% in searches.

Karolina continued: “It’s clear that the Government’s widely publicised anti-diesel rhetoric has dramatically affected consumer purchasing intentions in 2017. It is however hugely positive to see such a significant spike in AFVs, which highlights an exciting opportunity for retailers in 2018. During the months ahead, the market would greatly benefit from the Government changing the focus of the fuel debate to be less anti diesel and more pro electric.”

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 470,000 cars each day). Over 80% of UK automotive retailers advertise on autotrader.co.uk.

For more information, please contact:

Andrew Nankervis | Andrew.nankervis@autotrader.co.uk

1 Mix is determined by Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders segment, age of vehicle and fuel type

2 Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – New car registrations, January 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