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Fuel economy becomes less of a priority for used car buyers

putting fuel in a car

Used car buyers are less interested in fuel economy, despite rising pump prices, according to BuyaCar.

Users of BuyaCar’s website used the site’s MPG filter almost 40% less during January than in the same month a year ago.

Analysts note that this is in line with research by Autovia, which tracks the behaviour and opinions of car owners, showing that model styling and brand image are the biggest motivating factors when buying a car.

Petrol and diesel prices increased in January. The average cost of a litre of unleaded now stands at 146.45p and diesel at 149.81p, meaning the cost of filling up a 55-litre family car with petrol is now £80.55 and with diesel £82.40.

In its latest online used car market update, BuyaCar also revealed that the average price of cars bought on the site in January rose again - even as wholesale prices paid by dealers for stock flatlined following record increases during 2021.

Average prices paid in January increased to £17,600 - beating the all-time record of £17,400 reported by BuyaCar in October last year.

Prestige cars returned the fasted conversions, with eight out of the 10 fastest selling cars in January being Range Rover, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi models.

BuyaCar analysts found that buyers have been focused on snapping up top-of-the-range trim levels, leaving many more affordable versions available. This affects the Nissan Qashqai range, typically available for around £500 less than a year ago, the Ford Focus, down on average by around £600 and the Vauxhall Astra, listed on average for around £1,500 less than in January 2021.

Christofer Lloyd, editor of, said: "Despite the turmoil seen throughout the wider market over the past 12 months, the trends on BuyaCar are remarkably consistent.

"They also seem to reflect widening differences between customers who take the traditional route of visiting dealers and those who prefer the convenience of researching and ordering entirely online and having their car delivered to their home.

"It’s interesting to see that the priorities of a growing proportion of our customers do not include fuel economy, at least during their initial searches.

"The tendency of our customers to splash out on upgrading to the most desirable cars began during the most difficult phases of the pandemic, perhaps as a result of them having additional savings thanks to reduced spending on leisure and social activities. But the trend shows no sign of ending, even as life gradually returns to normal."

The Tesla Model 3 has been declared the most desirable used car and electric vehicle (EV) of 2021 for dealers by Aston Barclay.

The US-built electric car appeared in the remarketing firm’s top 10 desirability index on seven occasions: more than any other model.

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