Auto Trader Owners’ Guide reveals motorists are more concerned with car running costs than being able to pay for a roof over their head

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The new Auto Trader Owners’ Guide is a quarterly in-depth examination of the automotive market place and analysis of motorists’ buying and selling behaviour.

Six in ten (63%) drivers said running a car is their main financial concern in the current economic climate – above paying rent, a mortgage, or job security.

Running a car was cited as the main financial concern for motorists in Q2 2012 – above paying rent, a mortgage, or job security - with six in ten (63%) noticing the impact of the economy most when it comes to keeping their vehicle on the road, according to the Auto Trader Owners’ Guide.

The new Auto Trader Owners’ Guide is a quarterly in-depth examination of the automotive market place and analysis of motorists’ buying and selling behaviour. In addition to data from the Auto Trader Retail Price Index, which provides insight into used car prices, Auto Trader questioned 2,215 UK motorists to gauge how the economy is impacting on their car purchases.

With over half (55%) of drivers having less disposable income in the second quarter of 2012 in comparison to the first quarter of the year, cheaper ownership costs are more important than ever and over half (53%) of potential car buyers said they were looking for a vehicle that is cheaper to run - with petrol prices at the forefront of motorists’ minds. Despite the cost of fuel declining slightly during May and June of this year , filling up the tank remains the primary concern for 82% of motorists, followed by insurance fees (67%).

The desire for more economical vehicles is driving demand for fuel-efficient new models. Almost a third (32%) of new car owners chose their car in order to save money on fuel, tax or insurance, compared with used car owners (24%). With new motors and fuel-efficient technology generally offering more miles to the gallon, new car registrations rose for the fourth successive month by 3.5% in June 2012 - driven by demand from private buyers, who bought 9.8% more cars in June 2012 year-on-year.

Although younger vehicles are highly sought-after, a reduction in new car registrations from 2009 – 2011 as a result of the recession means that there are now fewer nearly-new cars entering the used car market. Subsequently, the profile of the UK car parc is much older now than it has ever been.

The Q2 2012 Auto Trader Retail Price Index – which tracks the average asking price of used cars - reveals that from April to June 2012, the price of second hand vehicles fell five per cent year-on-year to £8,620; a decline driven by an increase in the number of vehicles aged over ten years old in the used car market. This is the lowest since Auto Trader began tracking in January 2010.

However as demand for newer vehicles rises, the price of younger vehicles has increased, with the price of vehicles under one year old rising three per cent quarter-on-quarter.

Despite new cars being more expensive in price, with running costs for older vehicles becoming financially prohibitive, buying a new car is a wise investment.

Tim Peake, Group Strategy Director at Auto Trader, the UK's number one site to buy and sell new and used cars, explains: “With the average cost of used vehicles declining, it’s easy to make the assumption that now is a good time to buy a used car. However, this average drop in price has been caused by an abundance of older vehicles aged ten years plus in the market, and younger second-hand vehicles are scarce. Therefore, now is also a good time to invest in a new vehicle. Not only will you benefit financially from a more economical motor, but as younger models are in high demand, your car may have a greater chance of holding its value into the future.”

The findings also show that with running costs at the forefront of motorists’ minds, more economical and affordable small cars stand head and shoulders above other models as the most popular vehicles to buy. Amongst motorists that have purchased a car in the past three months, small family cars like the Volkswagen Golf and supermini models such as the Ford Fiesta are most commonly sought after.

Tim Peake continues, “UK drivers love small cars, with good reason. Supermini and small family models tick many boxes for motorists. From a financial point of view, not only are they affordable and fuel efficient, but on a practical level, smaller cars are generally easier to drive and park. And with new manufacturers responding to consumer demand for smaller cars, there are plenty of new models to choose from.”

For all media enquiries and interview requests or for a copy of the full Auto Trader Owners’ Guide, please contact the Auto Trader Press Office at Citizen Relations –

Notes to Editors

The Auto Trader Owners’ Guide is a quarterly barometer of car buying and selling decisions and the impact these have on the market. With the Q2 2012 report showing green shoots of recovery in the new car market and consumer demand for smaller, more economical vehicles, the next quarter’s report (July – September 2012) will examine how these trends develop and the impact they have on the environment for buying, selling and owning.

The Auto Trader Retail Price Index

Research methodology
Research amongst motorists:
In collaboration with digital Research, Auto Trader surveyed 2,215 motorists in June 2012 on the following industry-related topics:

  •     The general economy
  •     Personal finances
  •     Reasons for buying and selling a car
  •     Vehicle running and ownership costs

Motorists are defined in this instance as driving licence holders aged 17 years or more, and respondents were recruited via the Auto Trader consumer panel, digital Research panel, and social media.

Auto Trader Retail Price Index research methodology:
Base Data and how average prices are calculated
The Auto Trader Retail Price Index monitors the movement of advertised asking prices in the used car market. Stated prices are based on the average price of all used vehicles advertised on since January 2010. As this represents over 80% of all available used cars for sale in the UK, Auto Trader is in a unique position to comment on variations in advertised prices.

With more than 15,000 dealers – an estimated 85% of all car dealers in the UK – advertising their vehicles on the Auto Trader website and the ability to sample up to 400,000 individual used cars each month, the impact of natural fluctuations in the profile of the used cars (due to variations in age, mileage, condition) is minimised.

Data Cleansing for Auto Trader Retail Price Index
Auto Trader produces a daily feed of all cars advertised on its website by its trade customers. This totals over 417,000 adverts each day and includes all changes and adjustments made to the advert up to midnight on the previous day.
By default, it also shows which adverts have been removed and what new adverts have been created each day, as well as any ongoing changes to the asking price or specification. Each advert is identified and tracked by Auto Trader using a CAP identification code.

Using a variety of business and proprietary rules, raw advert data is cleansed to ensure an accurate reflection of prices and to remove any anomalies such as entries that lack sufficient information or duplicates. After this process, Auto Trader analyses around 327,000 vehicles per day. Based on a typical advert turnover rate of 65 days, Auto Trader analyses an estimated 3.5 million unique vehicles per annum, representing over 83% of all vehicles sold by the trade in the UK market.

About Auto Trader
Auto Trader is the UK’s number one motoring website and drives more leads to dealers than any other company in the UK. With over 10.8 million monthly unique users, carrying out over 135 million searches on new and used vehicles, Auto Trader dominates the online classifieds market.

Over 2.2 million people access Auto Trader via their mobile phone every month, through the mobile-optimised site and apps developed for iPhone, Android and Nokia. Auto Trader is part of Trader Media Group.

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Karel Kumar
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