Used car prices fall in May

Used car prices fell in May, with the diesel prices falling more than petrol.

This is according to Auto Trader’s latest Retail Price Index, which combines and analyses data from about 500,000 trade used car listings every day, as well as additional dealer forecourt and website data.

It found that the average price of a used car in May was £12,676, a £93 decrease compared to April but a seven per cent increase on the same period last year on a like-for-like basis.

Meanwhile, 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 five and nine per cent up respectively.

The volume of searches for diesel vehicles on Auto Trader continued a long-term decline in May, falling below 50% of fuel-based searches for the first time. On average, 22% of all searches that take place on Auto Trader each month are based on fuel type. Of these, diesel accounted for 49% of searches and petrol for 47% in May. Searches for diesel vehicles have fallen dramatically in recent years, dropping from 71% in November 2016.

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.’

The most marked fall in prices was seen in vehicles between one and three years old, with a small decrease in the five to 10-year age bracket and month-on-month increases in all other age categories.

The average price of an alternatively fuelled vehicle also fell by one 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 four per cent. But the proportion of searches for electric vehicles fell from five per cent in March to just three per cent in May.