• Hinton Magazine

Car buyers seem LESS interested in fuel economy than a year ago - even as pump prices spike

... says BuyaCar.

FUEL ECONOMY is slipping down the list of priorities of used car buyers, despite rocketing pump prices, according to a popular online car supermarket.

BuyaCar.co.uk says that its customers filtered their car searches by MPG figures almost 40% less during January this year than in the same month a year ago.

Analysts note that this is in line with research by parent company Autovia, which closely tracks the behaviour and opinions of car owners, showing that model styling and brand image are the biggest motivating factors when buying a car.

In its latest online used car market update, BuyaCar also reveals that the average price of cars bought on the site in January rose again - even as wholesale prices paid by dealers for stock flatlined following record increases during 2021.

In a potential sign that online car buying is increasingly the go-to choice for affluent motorists in particular, average prices paid in January increased to £17,600 - even higher than the all-time record of £17,400 reported by BuyaCar in October last year.

Other highlights of BuyaCar's January trading update include

  • the highest proportion of female customers in the company's 20-year history at 48%

  • women forming the majority of buyers between the ages of 18 and 35

  • searches for diesel cars reaching a new low of 23%

  • searches for electric vehicles just 5% behind those for petrol hybrids, at just over 13% of all searches

  • prestige cars converting from page view to sale fastest of all - with 8 out of the fastest selling 10 being Range Rover, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi models

BuyaCar also emphasises that the record prices paid for cars in January reflect the choices of its customers rather than an underlying increase in the cost of cars.

For example, five of its most popular models are now available at substantially lower average prices than a year ago. Analysts say that buyers have been focused on snapping up top-of-the-range trim levels, leaving many more affordable versions available. This affects the Nissan Qashqai range, typically available for around £500 less than a year ago, the Ford Focus, down on average by around £600 and the Vauxhall Astra, listed on average for around £1,500 less than in January 2021.

Christofer Lloyd, Editor of BuyaCar.co.uk, said: "Despite the turmoil seen throughout the wider market over the past 12 months, the trends on BuyaCar are remarkably consistent.

"They also seem to reflect widening differences between customers who take the traditional route of visiting dealers and those who prefer the convenience of researching and ordering entirely online and having their car delivered to their home.

"Perhaps the biggest example of this is the emergence of women as the driving force at the younger end of the market for BuyaCar. But in general it's interesting to see that the priorities of a growing proportion of our customers do not include fuel economy, at least during their initial searches.

"The tendency of our customers to splash out on upgrading to the most desirable cars began during the most difficult phases of the pandemic, perhaps as a result of them having additional savings thanks to reduced spending on leisure and social activities. But the trend shows no sign of ending, even as life gradually returns to normal."

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