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

Get set for forecourts opening on Monday with our latest #GetRetailReady #infographic revealing car buyer's thoughts and expectations in the new #retail landscape. https://t.co/iEsnRun6j8 https://t.co/OPHraHWwX1
Auto Trader Highly Rated is back for 2020! Our Highly Rated Award recognises those car retailers delivering the very best in customer service. Find out when we will be announcing the 2020 Award recipients and what criteria you need to meet to qualify. https://t.co/3KF1MkqhfV https://t.co/LpmE65LbMw
Ian Plummer was invited onto @BBCNews this morning to discuss the latest manufacturing figures from the @SMMT. He took the opportunity to highlight the pent up demand in the market & all the measures #retailers have been taking to get #retailready ahead of #showrooms reopening https://t.co/uNmpEYMatT
Thanks James, kind of you to say and great to hear you've found the insight beneficial https://t.co/63vAiNfMfG
To help retailers get back to selling vehicles as quickly as possible, we're launching a new marketing campaign as well as introducing some of the biggest changes to our site in recent years designed to drive more buyers to your ads. Find out more here: https://t.co/JvfE40zohI https://t.co/dqnoP6x3G0
With showrooms set to open on Monday, we’ve put together a handy #infographic to take you through car buyers' thoughts and expectations in the new #retail landscape. https://t.co/nqvKSP6X5t https://t.co/fUhwQ9j9Fq
Thanks to everyone for joining today's #webinar and of course thank you to our guest presenters @adamjt11 and @MikeHawesSMMT. Be sure to join next week and best of luck to those opening their doors next week #retailready https://t.co/qkAmfJw5kC
Catherine reveals the latest changes coming to the Auto Trader platform to improve the #userexperience and increase ad views and dwell time. https://t.co/EiIphIdQfH
Our latest consumer #marketing campaign is designed to give consumers confidence that they can join the car buying journey again and to push the message that #automotive is back in business!
Back to Catherine to talk about how we are helping consumers to get #retailready

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