Average used car prices in the UK dropped slightly in May with diesel recording a steeper decline than petrol, according to Auto Trader’s latest Retail Price Index. The average price of a used car in May was £12,676, a £93 decrease compared to April but a 7 per cent 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).
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 per cent and 9 per cent up respectively.
The volume of searches for diesel vehicles on Auto Trader continued a long-term decline in May, falling below 50 per cent of fuel-based searches for the first time. On average, 22 per cent of all searches that take place on Auto Trader each month are based on fuel type. Of these, diesel accounted for 49 per cent of searches and petrol for 47 per cent in May. Searches for diesel vehicles have fallen dramatically in recent years, dropping from 71 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent.