Diesel car owners living in British towns and cities are rushing to sell their cars ahead of threatened charges and penalties coming into force later this year. Car selling website Wizzle reports it first noticed the spike in diesel sales activity compared to petrol earlier this year; its continuation into the spring means the firm is now calling it out as a trend.
Owners are doing this to hedge their bets against future charges for either driving or parking a diesel car in urban areas, says the firm’s Sebastien Duval. “That’s why it’s in mostly urban areas – especially in and around London and other major cities – where the number of diesels offered for sale has increased compared with petrol cars."
London’s new diesel car T-Charge comes into force on 23 October 2017 and, as pressure grows on other British cities to tackle illegal levels of NOx emissions, many are looking to the London scheme as they formulate their own measures. Wizzle data suggests it’s diesel car owners in Essex who are most eager to get rid of their diesel cars, perhaps because of the county’s proximity to London. Other diesel-offload hotspots include, for similar reasons, the London boroughs, plus Birmingham and Manchester - large cities where such T-charges are also mooted.
Coinciding with this increase in diesel car sales activity is a reported doubling of the time it takes to sell a diesel car; a secondhand petrol car sells on average in three to four days, with diesels typically selling in six days – but this at one point earlier in 2017 rose to almost two weeks. The firm also reports diesel car sales fell “dramatically” at the start of the year; they have since recovered, but remain volatile – and the traditional price gap between diesel and petrol has now disappeared.
Duval does not believe this means the bottom has completely fallen out of the secondhand diesel car market, although “it does seem that when it comes to buying cars for stock, dealers are definitely exercising more caution than last year”.