Fuel economy is no longer a priority for used car buyers despite the rising cost of fuel, according to one online car supermarket. BuyACar.co.uk says its customers were 40 percent less likely to filter their car searches by fuel economy this January than they were 12 months ago, in spite of growing petrol prices.

That coincided with a continued reduction in demand for diesel vehicles, with just 23 percent of searches on the BuyACar.co.uk site seeking diesel-powered cars. That’s a record low for the fuel, which has been out of favour among new car buyers since the Volkswagen ‘Dieselgate’ scandal.

The company says the figures are in line with research by its parent company Autovia, which also owns consumer car publications Auto Express and Carbuyer. The organisation says it “closely tracks” the behaviour and opinions of car owners, and its own analysis has found model styling and brand image to be the biggest motivating factors for the UK’s car buyers.

Potential used car buyer inspecting door

And while drivers seem content to spend more on fuel, it seems they are also spending more on cars themselves. The average price of cars bought on the site continued to rise in January, despite the wholesale prices paid by dealers flatlining after record increases in 2021.

Christofer Lloyd, the editor of BuyACar.co.uk, said the company’s figures also revealed an increase in the proportion of female customers, as well as an increased interest in the most luxurious and desirable cars on the market.

“Despite the turmoil seen throughout the wider market over the past 12 months, the trends on BuyACar are remarkably consistent,” he said. “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.

Used cars

“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.”