Press release: used diesel car prices are down over -10% since the start of 2017, as petrol car prices rise

  • Alex Buttle
  • 29th January 2019
  • Valuations of used diesel cars, five years old or less, fell £1,478 (-10.3%) on average between the start of 2017 and the end of 2018
  • Equivalent petrol car prices were up £895 (+10%) across the same period – suggesting a major shift in demand from diesel to petrol fuelled vehicles
  • Most major car brands (including Ford, VW & Vauxhall) saw diesel prices drop – biggest falls seen with Land Rover, BMW & Audi
  • Data based on a sample of 130,000 valuations of up-to-5 year old diesel and petrol cars on Motorway.co.uk in 2017 and 2018

London, 29th January 2019 – The average price of a used diesel car fell by -10.3% between Q1 2017 and Q4 2018. Diesel car values dropped 5% through 2017, on the back of consistent negative news about the fuel, and new data shows that slump continued through 2018 at a near-identical rate.

The analysis from car buying comparison website Motorway.co.uk also shows equivalent used petrol prices increasing +10% between Q1 2017 and Q4 2018, suggesting a fundamental change in mass consumer sentiment away from diesel towards petrol. This is now a clear trend over two years that shows no signs of changing.

Used diesel cars have seen a sustained drop in average prices since January 2017. The trend is different with petrol, where prices have risen

Motorway.co.uk analysed two years of valuations for more than 130,000 used cars valued on its website, which aggregates live offers from popular online car buying websites and used car dealers. The study looked at trends over time for cars under five years old across all brands, and the two major fuel types – diesel and petrol.

The following table shows average quarterly prices of used diesel and petrol cars from Q1 2017 to Q4 2018:

2017 & 2018 used car valuations – diesel & petrol
Vehicles less than 5 years old

Period Diesel Petrol
2017 Q1 £14,327 £8,912
2017 Q2 £13,799 £8,979
2017 Q3 £14,338 £9,668
2017 Q4 £13,605 £9,765
2018 Q1 £13,608 £9,611
2018 Q2 £13,073 £9,386
2018 Q3 £12,622 £9,370
2018 Q4 £12,849 £9,807
Q1 ’17 to Q4 ’18 Change -10.31% 10.04%

Source: Motorway.co.uk, Jan 2019

As the data shows, diesel prices fell -5% a year in both 2017 and 2018 – a total of -10.3% over the two-year period, representing a consistent downward trend. The average diesel value in Q1 2017 was £14,327, dropping to £13,605 by Q4 2017, and £12,849 a year later – a fall of £1,478 for the average used diesel.

Meanwhile the average petrol price went up +10% from £8,912 in Q1 2017 to £9,807 by Q4 2018, an increase of £895 over the same period of the study.

Car makes

Motorway.co.uk also analysed diesel and petrol valuation data for individual car makes. The research revealed significant differences in how different brands have changed over the past 12 months and two years.

Looking at the most popular makes valued during 2017 and 2018, most major car brands including Ford, Mercedes and Volkswagen saw diesel price drops, with the biggest falls seen with Land Rover, BMW, Vauxhall & Audi.

The average price of a used BMW diesel car has slumped by –16.1% since the start of 2017, falling almost £3,000 from £17,269 in Q1 2017 to £14,441 in Q4 2018. This compares with average prices of BMW petrol variants which have remained steady (falling just –0.6%) over the same period. While the average price of a diesel Audi has fallen –14.3% since the beginning of 2017, compared to a +8.4% increase in price for the petrol variants.

The average price of a Land Rover – almost all of which are diesel-powered – was down more than £6,000 from £30,493 to £24,399 between Q1 2017 and Q4 2018 (a fall of -20%).

The following table shows average used diesel and petrol car values for popular makes of car, comparing Q1 2017, Q4 2017, and Q1 2018:A

Average valuations for diesel & petrol variants

Popular brands – change 2017 – 2018

Diesel Models Petrol Models
  Q1 ’17 Q4 ’17 Q4 ’18 Change Q1 ’17 Q4 ’17 Q4 ’18 Change
Audi £17,195 £15,933 £14,740 -14.30% £16,467 £17,444 £17,854 8.40%
BMW £17,269 £15,057 £14,481 -16.10% £18,347 £18,940 £18,245 -0.60%
Ford £10,153 £9,666 £9,447 -7.00% £7,784 £8,711 £7,967 2.30%
Hyundai £9,773 £9,386 £9,414 -3.70% £5,078 £5,870 £5,708 12.40%
Land Rover* £30,493 £28,395 £24,399 -20.00%  
Mercedes £17,346 £16,805 £15,351 -11.50% £22,537 £21,244 £20,924 -7.20%
Nissan £11,110 £9,863 £9,905 -10.80% £8,431 £9,347 £9,202 9.20%
Peugeot £7,353 £6,953 £7,145 -2.80% £5,625 £5,998 £5,676 0.90%
Vauxhall £8,064 £7,038 £6,860 -14.90% £6,051 £5,714 £5,628 -7.00%
Volkswagen  £12,437 £11,426 £11,087 -10.90% £10,270 £9,693 £10,053 -2.10%

* Land Rover vehicle valuations are 97% diesel from 2017-2018

Source: Motorway.co.uk, Jan 2019

Alex Buttle, director of car buying comparison website Motorway.co.uk comments:

“It’s been a tough couple of years for diesel owners. Having been penalised by the Government and ripped apart by the press, diesel prices slumped in 2017. Although we saw early signs of resilience in the first half of 2018, any recovery has been undone recently by worsening consumer sentiment towards diesel. This followed the announcement of wider, more punitive emission zones in London and more rigorous emissions testing for all cars later in the year.

“Increasingly, people looking to buy a used car are deciding on fuel type before choosing what make and model they want to purchase. More people are opting for petrol and diesels are suffering.  Despite newer Euro-6 diesel engines now matching many petrol equivalents for emission levels, consumer sentiment has simply moved away from diesel – possibly forever.

“Perhaps the most interesting trend was used diesel Land Rovers dropping in price by a massive -20% over two years. This suggests they are losing their appeal at the expensive end of the used car market, as more affluent buyers are opting for other options from the likes of Audi, BMW, Volvo and Mercedes – where petrol variants are showing comparatively buoyant valuations.

“But it’s not just with bigger, premium SUVs and 4x4s. Smaller, cheaper used diesels are seeing falling prices too. To add to its woes, Vauxhall has also suffered with a -14.9% average drop in used diesel prices. Meanwhile, most petrol variants of smaller cars across the market are increasing in price, unlike their diesel counterparts.

“Across the UK car market, diesel prices are struggling to maintain buoyancy and this long term trend could be irreversible. The outlook for diesel values into 2019 looks very bleak indeed. Is the era of the diesel gas guzzler over?”