How diesel discounts are only just pipping petrol – despite a 20% slump in sales

Discounts on diesel cars are still only marginally higher than those for petrol models despite a drop in sales of more than a fifth in the wake of the ‘dieselgate’ scandal, latest data reveals.

Analysis by ‘mystery shoppers’ at WhatCar? who haggled dealers down from the full list price found the average discount achievable off a new diesel was 7.82 per cent or £2,731 – only slightly more than for petrol models at 7.11 per cent or £2,101. 

The smallest discount or ‘target price’ to aim for was on fully electric cars, which were discounted on average by 2.96 per cent and £746.

Diesel discounts: You can currently get £1,298 off a Volvo XC40 2.0 D3 R Design Geartronic (down from £33,635 to £32,337)

Among individual models, that includes diesel discounts of: £1,298 off a Volvo XC40 2.0 D3 R Design Geartronic (down from £33,635 to £32,337); £1,964 off a Volkswagen Golf 1.6 TDI Match 5dr (down from £23,300 to £21,337); and £2,129 off a Skoda Superb 2.0 TDI CR SE (down from £24,530 to £22,401).

Consumers can also haggle to save £1,917 on Peugeot 5008 1.5 Blue HDi Allure (down from £30,450 to £28,533); £3,240 on a Volvo V60 2.0 D4 Momentum auto (down from £34,965 to £31,726); £1,623 on a Nissan Qashqai 1.5 dCi 115 N-Connecta (down from £26,200 to £24,57); £2,208 on a new Seat Tarraco 2.0 TDI SE Technology (down from £30,820 to £28,612); £3,386 on an Audi A4 40 TDI Sport S tronic (down from £36,570 to £33,184) and £4,196 on a BMW 5 Series 520d SE auto down from £38,590 to £34,394.

This is against a background of latest official figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) this week showing new diesel car sales falling by 21.4 per cent in the ‘key barometer’ month of March compared to to a 5.1 per cent rise in petrol models.

Diesel sales have been hit in the wake of the ‘diselgate’ scandal in which Volkswagen and other car makers cheated over the amount of pollution coming out of their cars, particularly nitrous oxides or ‘Nox’.

This has added to the backlash against diesel by political leaders, with cities like London bringing in tough new anti-pollution rules.

Hot Seat: You can save £2,208 on a new Seat Tarraco 2.0 TDI SE Technology (down from £30,820 to £28,612)

Hot Seat: You can save £2,208 on a new Seat Tarraco 2.0 TDI SE Technology (down from £30,820 to £28,612)

From Monday drivers of older cars and vans in London face a new pollution charge of £12.50 per day – with fines of up to £160 if they fail to pay.

The charge targets vehicles which fail to meet strict new emissions criteria when entering the world’s first round-the-clock Ultra Low Emissions Zone or ‘ULEZ’ which operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

To begin with it will mirror the existing Congestion charge area which costs drivers £11.50 (between 7am and 6pm) each weekday. Combined with the ULEZ tax, that would mean a total of up to £24 per day for drivers of older cars.

Significantly the system is being policed by number-plate reading cameras which will automatically check via the DVLA the engine records of your car.

Those failing to comply face a penalty charge of £160, reduced to £80 if paid within 14 days. The ULEZ charge rises to £100 per day for lorries, buses and coaches, with fines of up to £1,000.

From October 2021, the zone will extend to the whole of inner London within the North and South Circular roads.

And it’s not just drivers in the capital facing an attack on their wallets in the name of ‘greener’ motoring.

Consumers can haggle to save £1,917 on Peugeot 5008 1.5 Blue HDi Allure (down from £30,450 to £28,533)

Consumers can haggle to save £1,917 on Peugeot 5008 1.5 Blue HDi Allure (down from £30,450 to £28,533)

Cash-strapped council chiefs in about 20 more cities — including Birmingham, Leeds, Bristol, Edinburgh and Glasgow — are considering following suit. 

The idea is to drive the most nitrous oxide- polluting vehicles off the road, or extract cash from those who can afford to pay for the privilege of emitting what London’s Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan calls ‘lethal air’.

To avoid the new charge, a petrol car engine must meet ‘Euro 4’ emissions standards (roughly vehicles from 2005) while diesels must comply with the ‘Euro 6’

standard introduced from around September 2015.

Electric cars will be exempt, including the £2 million 200 mph ‘guilt-free’zero-emissions Pininfarina Battista supercar which makes its UK debut at Goodwood to coincide with the zone.

The WhatCar? discount report noted: ‘Across all makes, models and fuel types from January to March, Citroen offered the biggest percentage discounts – with buyers saving on average 11.41 per cent off the list price. 

‘Volkswagen vehicles came with the second largest percentage discounts, while Vauxhall and Seat offered the third and fourth largest savings to new car buyers.’

It noted that average discounts across all brands dropped from 7.14 per cent in January to 6.95 per cent in March, with new car buyers receiving on average £2,652 off the list price at the beginning of March.

WhatCar? editor Steve Huntingford said: ‘Diesels still achieve 20 per cent better fuel economy than their petrol counterparts, making them ideal for long distance drivers or those who use their vehicle for towing heavy loads.’

Huntingford added: ‘Although the slump in diesel sales has hit hard in the past 18 months, the latest figures suggest that manufacturers have now got a handle on supply and matched it to consumer demand, meaning they don’t have to discount as aggressively in order to sell stock.

‘However, our mystery shoppers have discovered that there are still great savings to be made. And with the latest diesels having to hit tougher-than-ever environmental standards, they can still be a great choice for car buyers’.


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