LONDON – Diesel vehicles’ damaged public image is being reflected in slumping interest in used diesel-powered cars.
The latest online analytics from Auto Trader indicate gasoline-powered cars have closed the gap considerably on the most-searched fuel type of pre-owned car.
Auto Trader says on average, a quarter of all searches on its website each month are based on fuel type. In November, 71% of car buyers selecting a fuel type chose diesel, compared with just 26% for gasoline vehicles.
Yet, following that month’s announcement from Environment Secretary Chris Grayling on a potential diesel-scrappage scheme, followed by months of negative press coverage on diesel cars, the share for diesel searches had dropped to 54% by May. At the same time searches choosing gasoline rose to 43% of all searches that month.
While diesel has recovered some ground since May, rising to 56% in June and gasoline dropping to 41%, the popularity of the fuel is still a long way from recovering the dominant share of searches it held before November.
The website also noticed a significant spike in searches for alternatively fueled cars after Grayling announced July 26 the U.K. intends to ban the sale of new gasoline and diesel vehicles by 2040. On the day of the announcement there was a 680% increase in consumers searching for electric, 257% for petroleum ethanol, 170% for hybrid, and 129% for bi-fuel.
However, Auto Trader’s retailer and consumer-product director, Karolina Edwards-Smajda, warns against writing off diesel too soon.
“Given the level of coverage, it’s not surprising there has been a decline in searches but, despite the ongoing negative rhetoric, the impact on diesel has been fairly limited up to this point,” she says. “The return to growth on our marketplace is testament to not only the resilience of diesel but also its popularity amongst car buyers.”