Press release

Volume brands see record annual price growth as premium price tags flatten out

  • Significant disparity between volume and premium brand price growth; 8% vs 1% in July
  • A positive July for diesel with record price growth and small increase in Auto Trader searches
  • Average price of used cars increases 7% in July

According to the latest figures from the Auto Trader Retail Price Index, there is a sharp disparity in the average price growth between used volume and premium brands, recording a contrasting year-on-year price increase in July of 8% and 1% respectively. This represents the highest rate of price growth for volume brands, and the lowest for premium since January 2017 (0%).

The data reveals that the gap emerged late last year. In August, both volume and premium brands recorded the same levels of sustained price growth (3%), but then began to separate, with volume continuing its trajectory, whilst the rate of growth for second-hand premium cars slowing significantly.

Commenting on the findings, Karolina Edwards-Smajda, Auto Trader’s Director of Commercial Products, said: “At this stage it’s unclear as to exactly why there’s such a contrasting pricing strategy between volume and premium brands, but it’s likely two key factors have coincided. For one, premium brands are competing more aggressively for market share and continue to develop sales at a healthy pace. And secondly, since Brexit and the impact on the value of the pound, we’ve seen volume brands less included to chase the market with lower margins. There’s clearly an emerging trend here and something we’ll keep a close eye on in the months to come.”

Average used vehicle prices increase in July

In terms of the wider market, used vehicle prices saw an increase in July, reaching £12,709; a like-for-like increase of 7% on the same period last year (stripping out the impact of changes in the mix of cars being sold[1]).

The average price of a used petrol car in July was £10, 844, an annual increase of 8%. It marks the fuel type’s lowest level of year-on-year growth since August 2017.

Despite wider challenges in the new car market, diesel recorded a particularly strong performance last month. The average price of a second-hand diesel in July was £14,411, which represented an annual increase of 6%, marking its highest ever rate of growth.

Diesel remains the UK’s most popular fuel type, albeit marginally

On average, 22% of all searches that take place on Auto Trader each month are based on fuel type. In June 2016, diesel accounted for 71% of searches and petrol just 27%. However, this figure has steadily declined in line with negative public commentary and by June 2018 reached a record low of just 47% of searches, whilst petrol had increased to 46%. In July, diesel managed to slow this trend, albeit marginally, creeping back up to 49% of all fuel related searches – it’s first increase since October 2017. However, petrol remains in hot pursuit, accounting for 47% of all fuel related searches last month.

The percentage of searches for alternatively fuelled vehicles (hybrid, bi-fuel, petrol ethanol, LPG, electric) remained flat in July, accounting for 4%.

Karolina continued: With new diesel registrations continuing to tumble, and the ongoing negative tone of the fuel debate, it’s very reassuring to see diesels performing so stoically in July in terms of both value and popularity on Auto Trader. We saw this reflected in the recent Q2 used car transactions which recorded a 3.2% increase in second-hand diesel purchases.

“However, whilst diesel is showing great resilience we cannot ignore the inevitable. AFV adoption remains disappointing but as the barriers to entry reduce and awareness amongst consumers increase, they’ll not only catch up with diesels, but will very quickly overtake them. There are clear signs this is already in effect and represents a very exciting opportunity for retailers. A diverse forecourt that accounts for all consumer tastes, including budget conscious car buyers and the more technologically savvy, will be essential to sustaining growth.”

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.

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

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