Used car market achieves record results

The used car market enjoyed its best ever quarter between April and June this year, growing 108% with 2,167,504 vehicles changing hands.

According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), this is up 6.6% on 2019 pre-pandemic levels.

The increase tracks the country’s gradual emergence from lockdown, as businesses reopened, demand for personal mobility increased and stock shortages in the new car market forced some consumers to turn to used models.

Compared to the near standstill of the economy last year, the used car market saw the biggest growth in April, up 307.4% on 2020 with 724,743 transactions in the month, and up five per cent on pre-pandemic 2019.

All months in quarter two saw significant growth, with May and June up 9.9% and 4.6% on 2019 respectively, the best performance for both months on record.

Year to date, the rebound in Q2 has pushed the used car market up 33.3% to 3,855,259 units over the first half of the year. However, this remains 4.9% or almost 200,000 units off the 2019 market.

Demand for used battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles continued to grow, with the market share for plug-in vehicles increasing to 1.3% of the used car market in the quarter. Both BEV and PHEV transactions more than tripled in the second quarter (353.9% and 349.8% respectively) to 10,903 and 16,202.

Petrol and diesel powertrains, meanwhile, made up 96.4% of the quarter’s used car market at 2,090,396 units. In addition, increased demand overall has led to an increase in sales of older used cars with only 12.7% of all vehicles sold being three years or under, the lowest on record.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “This is welcome news for the used car market as transactions rebounded following nationwide lockdowns which closed retailers. More motorists are turning to used cars as supply shortages continue to affect the new car market, and the increased need for personal mobility with people remaining wary of public transport as they return to work. A buoyant used car market is necessary to maintain strong residual values which, in turn, supports new car transactions. We now need to see a similar rebound in new car sales to accelerate the fleet renewal necessary to deliver immediate and continuous improvements in air quality and carbon emissions.”