Diesel-powered cars have been under the microscope of late, but that hasn’t stopped drivers coveting them, according to new analysis. Although sales of brand new diesel cars have fallen dramatically in recent years, a study by BuyaCar.co.uk found drivers are paying a hefty premium to buy used diesels.

In 2020, sales of new diesel cars were down by 52 percent, giving the fuel a market share of just under 12 percent. By way of a comparison, just a few years ago in 2014, diesel cars made up more than half of all new cars registered on these shores.

But BuyaCar.co.uk says the used market is a different kettle of fish, with diesels making up more than a third (34 percent) of all used sales. That’s despite just 26 percent of buyers originally searching for diesel vehicles.

Porsche Diesel logo

And the firm claims buyers seem happy to pay more to have a diesel engine under the bonnet, with BuyaCar buyers “consistently” paying an average premium of £3,000 to have a diesel-powered car over an equivalent petrol car. In January the average price paid for a diesel on the site was £15,400 – £3,638 more than for a petrol car.

This, the company says, shows drivers are having their heads turned by diesel power, perhaps lured by the promise of low fuel consumption on long journeys. The figures also suggest drivers aren’t concerned about the government announcement that sales of new internal combustion engine cars will be banned in 2030, or wider concerns over old diesel engines’ impact on air quality in cities

"While it's no surprise that diesel retains a loyal core fanbase we were interested to see how many of our customers arrive looking for a petrol car but end up ordering a diesel," said Christofer Lloyd, Editor of BuyaCar.co.uk. "Any initial suspicion that this might be because diesels are generally out of favour and therefore offered more cheaply is quickly dispelled by the fact that a typical diesel sold on BuyaCar.co.uk is significantly more expensive than a petrol variant. This mirrors the fact that diesel models typically cost more than petrol equivalents when new.

"Of course, diesel continues to make economic sense for a large proportion of the motoring population who clearly understand that the initial price premium is more than made up for by less frequent stops at the pump for those who cover reasonably high mileages.

"And although this is the final decade of the new internal combustion engine in Britain and many other places in the world, those benefits clearly outweigh any concerns that their cars may eventually depreciate more quickly as the date for phasing out new ones approaches."

Land Rover Ingenium diesel engine