The recent 30 cents-per-litre petrol price hike has led to an increase in demand for pre-owned budget cars, managing director of Burchmore auctioneers Darryl Jacobson says.

The recent 30 cents-per-litre petrol price hike has led to an increase in demand for pre-owned budget cars, managing director of Burchmore auctioneers Darryl Jacobson says.

”As soon as the fuel price increase was announced - before it was even implemented - motorists became wary of buying vehicles with powerful, and thus thirstier, engines,” Jacobson said on Tuesday.

"As soon as the price hike was announced, we noticed an immediate demand for cars with smaller engines - such as a 1,3-litre or 1,4-litre motors - from the private buyers. Also in demand are extremely frugal cars, such as the 1,1-litre Uno," he added.

Jacobson said that it was not only students who were opting for vehicles with better fuel consumption than their more powerful-engined counterparts.

"Burchmore's clients have always included students and families who need a second car. Vehicles in the R40 000 to R50 000 range are proving especially popular with students, because they often come with air-conditioning, radio/tape that you’ll pay extra for with a new car or even nearly-new used car,” he said.

However, business people were also opting for cars with smaller engines - because companies were equally hard hit by the fuel price increases.

Jacobson said Burchmore’s was expecting an increase in registered buyers at its auctions: "At auctions, private buyers bid against the trade, thus avoiding the middleman.”

It was also possible that the demand for diesel-powered vehicles would increase, the Burchmore’s MD said.

"While the price of diesel is also rising, this is by a smaller margin than petrol. The economy associated with diesel is well known by vehicle buyers. I think that they will be quite happy to pay the slightly higher initial purchase price, when they come to appreciate the improved fuel economy," he added.

Look out for the feature “Under the hammer”, about the advantages and disadvantages of buying cars at an auction, in the April edition of CAR magazine (on sale March 24).