Press release

Used car prices cool in May but remain near record levels

The average price of a used car in May was £12,676, a £93 decrease compared to April but a 7% increase on the same period last year on a like-for-like basis (stripping out the impact of changes in the mix of cars being sold[1]).

  • The average price of a used car in the UK dropped by £93 in May month-on-month
  • Diesel vehicles recorded a sharper decline than petrol, dropping by £107 on average
  • However, average prices were up 7% on a year-on-year basis and remain near record highs

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. Auto Trader is the UK’s largest digital automotive marketplace, with more than 450,000 cars listed each day.

Diesel declines faster than petrol, as diesel search volumes continue to fall

The average price of a diesel vehicle on Auto Trader was £14,448 in May, a £107 decrease on the £14,555 recorded in April. In comparison, the average price of a petrol vehicle dropped by £57 month-on-month to £10,733.

On a year-on-year basis however, like-for-like prices for used diesel and petrol vehicles were 5% and 9% up respectively.

The volume of searches for diesel vehicles on Auto Trader continued a long-term decline in May, falling below 50% of fuel-based searches for the first time. On average, 22% of all searches that take place on Auto Trader each month are based on fuel type. Of these, diesel accounted for 49% of searches and petrol for 47% in May. Searches for diesel vehicles have fallen dramatically in recent years, dropping from 71% in November 2016.

Commenting on the findings, Karolina Edwards-Smajda, Auto Trader’s Retailer and Consumer Product Director, said

“Month-on-month used car prices have come off the boil slightly in May, but this follows the plate change in March which tends to result in an influx of good quality and higher value stock into the market. In general, used car prices remain near record highs and have stayed robust over the last year despite a choppier new car market.

“But what we are seeing fairly clearly now, from both search and price data on our platform, is the dwindling popularity of diesel. Ongoing uncertainty has rattled consumers and put them off purchasing, despite the fact that newer diesels are the most fuel-efficient, environmentally friendly and cheap option for a significant segment of motorists. We urgently need more clarity from government on the strategy and timeline for shifting to lower-emission vehicles, and how consumers will be supported along that journey.”

Younger vehicles leading decline

The most marked fall in prices was seen in vehicles between 1-3 years old, with a small decrease in the 5-10 year age bracket and month-on-month increases in all other age categories.

A mixed picture for alternatively fuelled vehicles

The average price of an alternatively fuelled vehicle also fell by 1% in May on a month-on-month basis, dropping from £20,512 to £20,315. Within this, electric prices shot up by £2,017 and hybrid prices fell by £277.

As with petrol and diesel however, the average price for alternatively fuelled vehicles was up on a year-on-year basis, recording like-for-like growth of 4%.

The proportion of searches for electric vehicles on Auto Trader fell from 5% in March to just 3% in May.

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

2 Total price change not on a like-for-like basis

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 450,000 cars each day). Over 80% of UK automotive retailers advertise on autotrader.co.uk.

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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
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VAT number: GB 614 8918 20

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