Dealers to review fuel profiles in 2018

With diesel sales struggling as 2017 goes on, is it time for dealers to begin reviewing their fuel profiles for the future?

It turns out a large number of dealers would agree with this. In fact, almost nine in ten dealers said they planned to review their fuel profiles in 2018 as a response to consumer uncertainties around diesel in a survey by Cox Automotive.

What is interesting is that, although the vast majority of dealers planned to review their stock profile next year, just over half (54%) said they had altered their in 2017.

2017 has not been kind to diesel vehicles sales. The diesel market share continues to lose market share. In September 2016, for example, the fuel held a market share of 46%. By September 2017, this had fallen to just 40%.

Dealers say they have seen this shift in consumer habits first hand. In Cox’s survey, 80% of them said they had seen a change in consumer attitudes towards diesel due to uncertainty around the fuel, and a further 86% said they expect this to continue into 2018.

“Concerns about the diesel market are definitely spreading among dealers,” said Philip Nothard, head of external relations at Cox Automotive. “It’s been a volatile 12 months, and not entirely unexpected, but this level of decline in the new car market is significant.”

September data from Motors.co.uk, paints a similar picture on dealer forecourts with the first signs that days to sell are starting to lengthen for diesel. So far, these are up from 39 to 40 days year-on-year. In comparison, petrol variants have reduced, down from an average of 38 to 34 days.

“Dealers are starting to sense that diesel vehicles could become more difficult to shift,” continues Nothard. “There are definite signs of consumer reaction to media reports on diesel, especially in regard to its environmental impacts.”

“This media attention, combined with further external factors such as taxes and city charges have all contributed to consumer interest waning.”

“Some councils have introduced Clean Air Zone (CAZ) charges for two-year plus old diesel cars, which will have affected interest. We’re hearing that dealers who have lower spec or older diesel models on sale are worried – not only in terms of profit potential but also about the space these vehicles occupy while waiting to be sold.”

“For dealers investing in newer models, the sentiment is more positive. New diesel cars are cleaner and have to pass strict emission tests before being sold, so they aren’t included in city charge schemes.”