Diesel reports are ‘misleading’ motorists

Despite reports that average diesel used car prices have fallen in recent months, new research has found that they are in fact increasing.

Average diesel price rises have been slowing this year, but August bucked the trend with a 6% year-on-year gain, according to Auto Trader’s latest monthly Market Report.

The findings of the report also indicate that consumer appetite for used diesel cars hasn’t waned either. Diesel searches on Auto Trader actually rose from May to August this year, and more consumers (55%) still search for diesel than any other fuel type.

This mirrors the transactional data of the used car market, which was 4% up for diesel from January to June, following a record-breaking year for used car transactions in 2016.

The sustained desirability of diesel was also evident among car sellers. Of around 10,000 motorists surveyed while advertising their car for sale on Auto Trader in July/August, 47% of diesel owners said they were planning to buy another diesel next, and only 10% said the recent diesel debate had influenced their decision to sell.

The proportion of private diesel adverts placed on Auto Trader in August rose by only 0.3% year-on-year, suggesting there is no significant increase in motorists selling their diesel cars and that motorists are generally unmoved by the diesel debate – or, indeed, by the Government’s 2040 announcement that petrol and diesel cars will be banned by 2040.

However, the Auto Trader report did highlight one key effect the diesel debate has had on consumer behaviour, and that is increased confusion and anxiety on what these reported developments mean for motorists and the cars they own. Some 49% of car buyers said the news on fuel types over the last year had made the car buying process more challenging and, as a result, 35% admitted they simply weren’t aware of the current pros and cons the varied fuel types have to offer.

“This sustained debate on fuel is the by-product of a big change in the industry, as car manufacturers make great strides to deliver cleaner, safer and more efficient cars every day,” Auto Trader’s COO Nathan Coe said. “It might be tempting to focus on the negatives during periods of such change, but it’s crucial that the centre of the debate focuses on the benefits and value of this change to motorists, rather than further energising a narrative that stigmatises cars and threatens to penalise motorists.”