Used car market keeps steady pace

The UK’s used car market remained strong in 2017, dipping just -1.1% compared with the previous year as more than 8.1 million models changed hands, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Despite a -5.1% fall in the market in the fourth quarter, annual transactions were at their second highest level, following the all-time record set in 2016.

Reflecting trends in the new car market, smaller cars continued to be the most popular used buy, with superminis representing a third (33.5%) of all transactions, while demand for minis grew 4.3%. SUVs enjoyed the strongest growth, rising 9.5%. Apart from executive cars, up a marginal 0.02%, all other segments experienced declines.

In 2017, buyers continued to take advantage of the latest alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs), now increasingly available in the used market. Growth was driven by demand for petrol-electric hybrid cars, up 22.2% to 73,864, and zero emission electric vehicles, which rose 77.1%, with 10,199 changing hands in the year.

Despite a -4.3% decline, petrol retained its position as the most popular fuel type with a 58.0% market share, while used diesel car transactions rose 3.3%, with more than 3.3 million motorists (40.8% of buyers) investing in one.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, ‘Britain’s used car buyers are enjoying more choice than ever, and it’s great to see millions of people taking advantage of the low emission, safety and convenience technology filtering into this market. While such healthy demand is reassuring, to keep it that way and accelerate renewal throughout the fleet – the fastest way to improve air quality – government must now restore confidence to the new car sector.

‘Given the recent economic and fiscal uncertainty, particularly over diesel, consumers and businesses need clarity to encourage them to move out of their older vehicles and into newer, lower emission cars – whatever their fuel type.’