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Shortage of used EVs keeping prices high, says Auto Trader

Used car prices saw a slight increase in 2019, despite a tough environment, while interest in EVs and AFVs continued to rise.

Demand for electric vehicles (EVs) increased in December by 78% when compared to the same period in 2018

Figures from the Auto Trader Retail Price Index show the year overall ended with like-for-like price growth of 0.6% when compared to 2018, meaning the average price of a used car was £12,800.

However, the second half of the year proved challenging and while the average price of a used car in December was £13,542, up from £12,976, after removing the impact of stock mix (changes in the types of vehicle entering or leaving the market), prices contracted by 3.3% on a like-for-like basis.

Prices among the electric vehicles (EVs) and the wider alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) categories were up though, with a like-for-like increase of 12.9% for EVs and 2.6% year-on-year for AFVs.

This has been attributed in part to a supply shortage of both vehicle types compared to buyer interest. As an example, AFVs and EVs only account for 3.4% and 0.5% of total stock on Auto Trader’s marketplace respectively, but AFVs now make up 9% of all searches conducted by fuel type.

The difference in average asking prices between internal combustion engines (ICE) and AFVs also continues to grow, increasing in December by 11% year-on-year. Petrol cars continue to be most popular, with 49% share of search (down from 50% in November) while diesels account for 42% (no change on November).

The data also shows premium brands are faring well, with a 9.2% uplift in their volume on the marketplace in December compared to the same time in 2018, while increased by 15% year-on-year, a trend mirrored in actual new car sales last year, as reported by the SMMT. However, like-for-like prices of these cars contracted by 2.2% year-on-year. Despite the dip the segment is still fairing more favourably than the overall market average.

The Auto Trader data also shows SUVs remain popular but supply outweighs demand, with searches for these vehicles up 9% year-on-year in December while volume increased by 14.6% in the month. This could have been a contributing factor to the like-for-like price dip of 4.4%.

Ian Plummer, commercial director at Auto Trader, said: “Despite the tough environment, the used car market has shown its resilience as transactions remain stable, and prices held up over the year. With greater certainty following the general election result in December, we are optimistic for a more positive outlook for 2020.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.