Auto Trader has revealed that diesel car searches have lost their dominance as the impact of proposed anti-diesel legislation and continued publicity surrounding NOx emissions is felt.
On average, 25% of all searches that take place on Auto Trader each month are based on fuel type with 71% of car buyers selecting diesel in November last year, compared to just 26% for petrol vehicles.
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But by May evidence that the anti-diesel agenda was gathering pace was evidenced by a fall in the share of diesel-based searches to 54%.
Petrol searches gained as a result, rising to 43% of all searches in the same month, Auto Trader revealed.
Following the Environment Secretary’s announcement that the sale of all non-hybrid petrol and diesel vehicles will be banned by 2040, there was a significant spike in alternatively fuelled cars searched for on Auto Trader.
On the day of the announcement, July 26th, there was a 680% increase in consumers searching for electric, 257% for petrol-ethanol, 170% for hybrid, and 129% for bi-fuel.
From May 2017 diesel searches returned to growth, however, rising to 56% in June and petrol dropping to 41%.
A statement issued by Auto Trader said: “In spite of this, diesel is still a long way from recovering the dominant share of searches it held before November 2016.”
Karolina Edwards-Smajda, Auto Trader’s retailer and consumer product director, said: “Given the level of coverage it’s not surprising there has been a decline in searches, but despite the ongoing negative rhetoric the impact on diesel has been fairly limited up to this point.
“The return to growth on our marketplace is testament to not only the resilience of diesel, but also its popularity amongst car buyers.”
The used car market is experiencing an increase in average used car prices.
In July 2017, the average price of a used car was £11,780, 4.5% higher than it was for the same month in 2016.
This growth is the result of a younger used car market of better conditioned cars, fuelled by the continued growth of new car finance in recent years.
Yet despite this average market increase, diesel is the only fuel type where month-on-month price increases are slowing.
The average year-on-year price increase for diesel used cars was just 1% in July 2017, which was balanced by a year-on-year price increase of 7.7% for petrol vehicles.
Edwards-Smajda said: “Whilst diesels remain a popular option for car buyers, it’s interesting to observe that at a time when the used car market is experiencing year on year growth, the ongoing negative commentary is having a slight impact on their retail value.
“Given the timing and the fact the slowdown is isolated only to diesel, a coincidence seems unlikely.
“Price is still increasing year on year, but growth is slowing, suggesting retailers are finding it harder to increase prices.”