Wednesday 18 October 2017

Petrol v Diesel: our survey reveals the shifts in buyers' preferences

  • Diesel still a strong favourite

  • Distributors detail buying trends in Independent Motors study

Diesel is still favoured by Irish drivers. Photo: Mark Renders/Getty Images
Diesel is still favoured by Irish drivers. Photo: Mark Renders/Getty Images
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

Buyers are returning to petrol in greater numbers than last year - and it looks like the swing will accelerate over the next 12 months, an Independent Motors survey has found.

But diesel maintains a huge loyal following, with owners of larger cars and SUVs making it a firm favourite.

In some cases, there are significant swings to petrol, while in others there are small shifts, our snapshot of buying trends reveals.

But most distributors who participated in our survey expect the switch to petrol to pick up pace for the 172-reg period - and more dramatically again for next year.

We asked them for:

* Their individual petrol and diesel sales figures for the year to date

* What models/segments are changing most in their line-ups

* Their projections for diesel-petrol sales for the 172-reg period - and for next year.

Their answers are outlined in detail on here.

A constant theme in response to our questionnaire was the as-yet-unknown impact of measures in the Budget. If diesel is penalised, growth in petrol and hybrids/electrics will be much stronger, most forecast.

If there are changes, some feel the petrol mix could expand to 40pc next year.

The distributors point to greatest increases in petrol purchasing and forward orders among buyers of small hatchbacks and family cars so far this year.

However, some note a distinct move to compact and mid-size SUVs, too.

The shift to petrol is regarded as being attributable to:

* Uncertainty over diesel taxation in the near future

* Technological improvements in petrol engines that narrow road-tax, performance and MPG gap with diesel

* More city-based buyers returning to petrol cars as they have become increasingly competitive on road tax.

Mercedes, for example, say city-based customers are "happy to return to petrol once it makes financial sense". Nationally this year, petrol has accounted for 30.3pc of sales - up from 27.5pc for the January-May period in 2016.

Diesel's share of overall registrations in that period has gone from 70.49pc (2016) to 65.96pc so far, according to official SIMI statistics.

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