Germany and France trading used diesel as market days supply drops sharply

Written by Dean Bowkett in category 
June 24, 2019

Market days supply (MDS) for online B2C used cars fell in Germany (-7.9%), France (-0.5%) and Italy (-2.3%) for the first two months of Q2 2019 compared to the whole of Q2 2018 according to the latest data from INDICATA.

However, a fall of 11.1% in used car sales in Spain for the first five months of the year saw average used car prices start to fall and MDS increase by seven per cent to 87.4 days for the first two months of Q2 2019 year-on-year.

Used car sales volumes increased by 10.6% in the UK for the year-to-May 2019, compared to the first five months of last year. Used diesel car prices remained almost flat, with a marginal decrease of 0.6%, whilst used petrol car prices rose 3.7%. This resulted in MDS continuing to be relatively stable at 46.2 days for April and May 2019 versus an average of 47.6 days for the whole of 2018.

War on diesel continues to have a significant influence

Drilling down into the data, the war on diesel continues to have a significant influence resulting in dealers trading out of their used diesel stock rather than retailing them to consumers. In some cases, they are even resorting to increasing the levels of export to clear out stock, particularly in Germany and France.

German dealers are currently struggling with stocks of pre-Euro 6 diesel cars which are facing increasing numbers of bans or charges for driving into some of Germany’s major cities and a €2,000-€3,000 cost to convert them to Euro 6 emissions standard.

This issue is starting to appear elsewhere in Europe as dealers are finding it increasingly difficult to sell their older vehicles resulting in ageing stock levels. The aim seems increasingly to avoid being left with unwanted diesel cars, inline with media reports of growing demand for petrol and alternatively powered vehicles. This issue has already seen an increasing number of small independent dealers falling into bankruptcy according to the ‘German Federation for Motor Trades and Repairs’ (Zentralverband Deutsches Kraftfahrzeuggewerbe, ZDK).

Total used diesel car sales show gradual move away from diesel

Total used diesel car sales across the big five European markets captured 49.2% of the online B2C used car market sales for the first five months of 2019 compared to 51.5% for the same period in 2018. This shows there is a move away from diesel but not to the same degree being seen with new car buyers.

However, marketshare only shows part of the story and looking at total sales, both petrol and diesel car sales increased in total year-on-year for the big five countries. Online B2C used petrol car sales rose 10.7%, whilst used diesel car sales saw a one per cent increase according to INDICATA. This proves that whilst the market dynamics are changing there remains a healthy demand for used diesel cars.

Average used car prices rising

This demand for used cars has meant most countries have seen average used car prices rising by as much as 3.5% on average in France or, at the other end of the scale, staying flat with just a 0.1% movement in Spain which is facing other market challenges.

Germany and France both saw average online B2C used diesel car prices rise by 2.7% and 3.4% respectively for the first two months of Q2 2019 versus the whole of Q2 2018.

With used diesel car sales still rising in volume terms and prices still on average increasing, the widening of the gap in MDS in Germany with diesel stock now down to 65.28 days in May 2019 compared to a 2018 average of 78.7 days and a 2018 average for petrol of 76.9 days and a May 2019 average of 77.2 days could be a sign that some dealers have been trading or exporting their diesel stock at a faster rate than needed based on sales volumes, demand and market prices.

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