Press release

Retail Price Index | February 2019

Petrol reaches record popularity on Auto Trader as diesel searches drop to all time low  

  • Petrol now accounts for half of all fuel type searches on Auto Trader whilst diesel accounts for 42%
  • As ULEZ approaches searches for diesels in London fall to just 26%
  • Average price of a used car in February was £12,885; a like-for-like increase of 2.7% YoY

The latest findings from Auto Trader revealed that petrol now accounts for half (50%) of all fuel related searches that take place on its marketplace, whilst diesel accounts for just 42%. It marks a precipitous decline for the much-maligned fuel type, which in February 2017 accounted for 64% of fuel related searches, whilst petrol just 33%.

In London, where the new Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) comes into effect on 8th April, the decline has been felt even more keenly, with searches for diesel falling 37% in two years; from 63% in February 2017, to just 26% last month.

In contrast, fuel related searches for petrol in the Capital have spiked from 32% to 61% during the same period. Low emission alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs), which will be completely exempt from the new ULEZ charges, have seen a growth in searches from 4% to 12%; significantly higher than the current total market (7%).

Diesels holding their value

Whist searches for diesels may be declining, used variants continue to hold their value. According to the Auto Trader Retail Price Index[1], which combines and analyses data from c. 500,000 trade used car listings every day, as well as additional dealer forecourt and website data, the average price of a second-hand diesel in the UK in February was £14,309; a 2.4% increase year-on-year (YoY).

It’s a solid performance but does represent a slower rate of growth for its petrol and low emission counterparts. The average price of a used petrol last month was £11,249, marking a 2.8% increase on February 2018. However, with an average sticker price of £21,809, AFVs recorded the strongest rate of price growth at 4.4%.  

In terms of the whole market, the average price of a used car in February was £12,885, which on a like-for-like basis equates to a 2.7% increase on the same period last year.

Commenting on the findings, Karolina Edwards-Smajda, Auto Trader’s Commercial Product Director, said: “The latest used market results along with our own price data highlights the stoicism of second-hand diesels. However, whilst fuel only represents one in five of the 55 searches that take place on our marketplace every second, the ongoing decline in diesel searches clearly highlights the impact a combination of sustained ‘demonisation’ and new legislation is having on consumer perception.

“Whilst the adoption of alternatively fuelled vehicles has been relatively slow, they are becoming more financially accessible and more technologically advanced with dramatically improved range capabilities. With our latest Market Report revealing that 71% of car buyers are now considering an electric vehicle as their next car, the trends we’re seeing today are only set to accelerate.”

[1] Data segmentation updated March 2019

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