This year has got off to a confident start, with both retail prices and consumer demand recording a strong performance in the first few weeks of the year, according to the latest data from Auto Trader.
Auto Trader’s Retail Price Index, which is based on daily pricing analysis of circa 900,000 vehicles across the market, shows the current average price of a used car is £18,268, which is the highest value the Index has recorded since its launch in January 2011.
It marks a 2.8% year-on-year (YoY) increase on a like-for-like basis, and although the rate of growth is down significantly from a peak of 32% YoY recorded in April 2022, this current rate is on top of the massive 31.3% YoY increase seen in January 2022.
It also marks a month-on-month (MoM) increase of 0.3%, the first positive MoM growth since October. Whilst it follows the seasonal trend of the market picking back up following the festive period, current growth is also ahead of typical pre-pandemic patterns.[i]
Prices have remained stable due to the ongoing demand and supply dynamics in the market. Although demand has softened against previous highs, overall levels remain robust, which is reflected in the level of consumer engagement on Auto Trader.
Visits to the marketplace are up 14% on January 2022 – the third month of consecutive YoY growth. Coupled with continued constraints in supply, this robust demand is contributing to the stability in used car values and is likely to do so for some time to come.
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Richard Walker, Auto Trader’s Director of Data and Insights, said: “After a stable December, our data shows that the market entered 2023 with some real momentum behind it. Prices are stable, demand is robust, and the feedback we’ve been receiving from many of our retailer partners in the last few weeks supports our cautiously confident outlook for the market this year.”
Whilst this positive trend in price growth has been seen across the retail market, the widely reported exception is electric vehicles (EVs), which at a high level have been impacted by contrasting market dynamics: the rate of growth in supply has accelerated past the growth in demand.
As energy prices began to surge, and the price of petrol and diesel returned closer to ‘normal’ levels, the proportion of used EV advert views on Auto Trader has softened, easing from a share of 6% of all used car advert views in June 2022, to 4% in January. Over the same period, used EV supply in the market has rocketed, surging from just 2% of all used cars advertised on Auto Trader in June, to over 6% in January.
As a result of these dynamics, used EV retail prices have begun to fall. In fact, the current average value of a second-hand EV across the whole retail market (£36,445) is down -0.9% on December, which marks five consecutive months of MoM decline.
In contrast, average prices of used petrol and diesel cars are up 0.6% (£16,666) and 0.5% (£16,723) respectively. We can see what impact these market dynamics have had on specific models, including the Tesla Model 3, which in Q4 of 2022, saw the level of available stock on Auto Trader increase 208% YoY – over the same period, the average advertised price on the marketplace has fallen circa £5,000[ii].
However, the huge scale of Auto Trader’s data, which includes the largest view of EVs across the retail sector, reveals how nuanced the immature electric market is. It also highlights how the negative price adjustment of over-supplied premium models are distorting the overall picture of EV market health.
Indeed, a look under the bonnet reveals there are plenty of models and derivatives that are not only outperforming other EVs, but also their fossil-fuelled counterparts.
A further indicator of market health is the speed in which used cars leave retailers’ forecourts. Auto Trader’s data shows that it took an average of 40 days for a used EV to sell in December, versus 35 days for petrol cars and 34 days for diesel. However, the MG ZS took an average of 31 days to sell in December, and the MGS took just 29 days.
[i] An average 0.2% MoM growth was recorded in January between 2011 – 2019.
[ii] Between September 2022 to December 2022, the Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus Auto 4dr fell from, £44,995 to £39,999; the Long Range Auto 4WDE 4Dr £50,049 – £45,750; the Performance Auto 4WDE 4dr (Performance Upgrade) £56,000 – £51,900