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Fear of fall in used diesel car values has passed, says VRA

Fears of a crash in used diesel car values prompted by air quality concerns “should now have passed”, says the Vehicle Remarketing Association (VRA).

Widespread belief that diesel values are set for a sharp decline is understood to be one of the main factors behind the current double-digit, year-on-year falls being seen in new diesel cars sales – but such concerns are unfounded, said Glenn Sturley, VRA chair.

He said: “The motor industry finds itself in a situation where consumers are confused and worried about buying a new car, especially diesels. A generalised assumption has arisen that buying a diesel is somehow a gamble.

“There was a brief moment last year when this concern may have had some foundation, but it passed very quickly. What we now know is that there has been a relatively slight adjustment in used diesel car values which has stabilised and used diesel demand is currently very, very healthy. Any worries should really now have passed.”

Cap HPI reported earlier this month that diesel resale values are expected to remain stable during 2018, despite fears that consumers could be driven towards choosing petrol or electrified alternatives.

Sturley continued: “Our members deal with selling, inspecting, transporting and managing more than 1.5 million used vehicles every year. We have a very accurate idea of what is happening in the used car marketplace and we can say that diesel values are very solid.”

The reasons that are being given for not buying diesels – that they are environmentally unfriendly, that they will be the subject of stringent legislation and so on – have little or no basis in fact, argues Sturley.

“A Euro 6 diesel is a very green vehicle choice,” he said. “Certainly, the new cars that are being bought as alternatives to diesel, such as petrols and plug-in hybrids, simply represent a different rather than better set of environmental compromises. The situation makes little sense.”

To repair the damage being done to the new car market, Sturley believes that consumers need to be given better quality information, including from the Government, and that inconsistencies in Government policy needed to be removed.

“The messages about diesel that the Government has given out in the last year or so are, at best, confusing, as is their policy itself in key areas such as Vehicle Excise Duty and Company Car Tax,” he added. “To some extent, it is no surprise that consumer perceptions are muddled.

“The fact is that the quite extreme decline in the new diesel car market that we are seeing is very much a preventable one – but the industry needs help to get the positive messages required across to potential new car buyers.

“Those messages are simple – new diesel cars remain a good environmental choice and there is no reason at all to expect a collapse in their values. With the right level of commitment, there is no reason that they cannot be successfully communicated.”

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