Drivers veer away from diesel

Drivers are turning their backs on diesel after the bad press it’s been getting in recent months.

Reports have highlighted higher emissions and predicted financial penalties being imposed, and drivers have responded by offloading their diesel cars.

According to consumer car selling website Wizzle.co.uk, Essex motorists are currently the most likely in Britain to be selling their diesel, rather than a petrol car. It also found that selling times for diesels doubled in early 2017, while barely changing for petrol, while diesel car sale prices fell dramatically at the start of 2017, compared with petrol cars.

Other leading hotspots for offloading diesels are the London boroughs, Manchester, Birmingham and towns along the south coast of Britain.

The rush to sell diesels began at the start of this year – at the same time as an explosion of negative headlines about new diesel car emissions scandals and planned regulations to discourage diesels from many urban areas.

Wizzle boss Sébastien Duval said, ‘From the moment we launched last summer we saw a very consistent pattern of average selling times for petrol and diesel cars. Petrol cars took between three and four days after listing to sell and diesels would typically go in just over six days.

‘Suddenly in January we saw diesels taking more than twice as long as normal to sell, while petrol cars carried on selling as usual.’

At the same time diesel car prices switched from being predictably higher than their petrol counterparts to a much more volatile pattern. And while selling times have settled down to around six days again, prices keep dipping up and down much more unpredictably than for petrol cars.

Sébastien added, ‘We benchmark transaction prices against the independent car valuation experts CAP-HPI and the old relationship between petrol and diesel values in the used market seems to have disappeared. Last year diesel values were consistently higher than equivalent petrol models but this year they are jumping above and below petrol car values from week to week, with no clear pattern or trend.

‘We think this is because dealers are now more cautious about holding diesels in stock and prefer to cherry-pick just the cars they already have a customer for.’

But the increase in motorists trying to sell diesels rather than petrol cars does looks set to continue as a trend.

Sébastien concluded, ‘The pattern we are seeing suggests that motorists in areas which are likely to be affected by things like future penalties for using or parking a diesel car are hedging their bets by selling now. That’s why it’s in mostly urban areas – especially in and around London and other major cities – where the number of diesels offered for sale has increased compared with petrol cars.

‘We don’t think the bottom has fallen out of the diesel market but it does seem that when it comes to buying cars for stock dealers are definitely exercising more caution than last year.’