Used diesel car sales fall as supply from new car market drops
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How a vehicle performs in the used car market is a real determining factor in a new car sales success. If demand in the used marketplace dries up, then residual values collapse making the car unattractive in terms of financing and cost of ownership. This means it is the used car market which is the key driver for the new car market.
However, when legislators and the media distort the market, as it has done with the war on diesel, we can see the used car market being dictated by the new car market.
The war on diesel having an impact
New diesel car sales started to decline in 2011 when the introduction of Euro-5 emissions tests back in 2008 saw three-year-old used cars starting to suffer with clogging issues with the diesel particulate filter (DPF). The war on diesel and the announcement and introduction of various clean air zone (CAZ) charges and other tax changes in 2016 and 2017 have accelerated the rate of decline in new diesel car sales. The result is we are now seeing the supply of three-year-old used diesel cars coming back to the market reducing.
Used car buyers are generally more pragmatic when it comes to choosing their next car being less concerned about the latest trends and more focussed on finding a car to meet their daily needs. This has resulted in demand for used diesel cars remaining relatively strong with total online B2C used diesel car sales up three per cent for the first seven months of 2019 – hitting 3.74 million compared to 3.64 million for the same period last year.
Diesel outlook on downward trajectory
The outlook for used diesel cars is still following a downward trend though. According to INDICATA’s data, used diesel car sales lost their crown as the powertrain of choice in August 2018 and since then they have continued to lose market share to used petrol cars and, to a far lesser degree, to hybrids and electric vehicles.
Four of the five largest car markets saw a shift in market share from diesel to petrol of between 2.3% (Germany) and 3.4% (Spain) with the UK seeing a 2.5% switch and France a 2.8% movement between the two fuels. Italy continues to be the exception with 469,502 online B2C used diesel car sales recorded by INDICATA for the first seven months of 2019, a 4.7% increase over the same period in 2018 and increasing the diesel used car market share from 68% over that period last year to 68.3% this year. This is clearly why so many German used car dealers are seeing Italy as a good place to export their unwanted older diesel cars.
Petrol continues to be powertrain of choice
Online B2C used petrol cars continue to strengthen their place as the powertrain of choice across the other four markets though. Sales grew by 12.5% across the five largest markets combined, hitting 3.86 million units for the first seven months of this year, or up 13% excluding Italy. This situation is expected to continue for the next three to four years as the collapse of new diesel car sales continues to wash through to the used car market. This will leave used car buyers with little option but to buy used petrol or start to pay a premium for the limited supply of used diesel cars which will then be available by 2021-2022 and beyond.
Of course, this will cause a dilemma for politicians and lobbyists as this means we will see increased levels of CO2 being produced by the increasing volume of used petrol cars on the roads, which could cause more chaos for the automotive industry and car owners with yet more legislation.