15 August, 2018

UK used car sales remain stable in Q2 2018

The UK’s used car market has remained stable in the second quarter of 2018, recording a small drop of 0.4%.

The latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 2,093,429 vehicles changed hands, just 8,725 fewer compared with Q2 2017. The stability comes after the market fell by 4.8% in Q1.

Diesel cars remained the most popular fuel, with growth of 3.2%, with some 868,573 used buyers driving one home in the period. This is in stark contrast to new diesel registrations, which have suffered massive drops since the start of the year. The growth in used diesel sales confirms that many drivers still want to use the fuel, but are put off from new, cleaner diesels by new vehicle excise duty rules.

With used diesels often featuring older engines, running to Euro 4 and Euro 5 regulations, these vehicles will emit more nitrogen oxide (NOx) than newer cars, with a larger effect on air pollution as a result.

Petrol transactions fell by 3.3%, while demand for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric vehicles grew by more than a quarter, with some 26,832 changing hands, 5,417 more than a year ago.

Superminis remained the most popular segment, despite a 2.6% decline in transactions, accounting for a third of the market (32.6%), and followed by small and medium-sized family cars. SUVs and executive models experienced the biggest growth, with demand up 10.7% and 3.9% respectively.

Elsewhere, trends closely followed the new car market, with black the UK’s most popular used car colour for a second consecutive quarter and silver and blue taking second and third places. Demand for white cars grew fastest, up 9.8%, followed by orange, up 9.1%. Meanwhile, green and maroon lost most favour among buyers, falling 14.6% and 9.6% respectively.

Ford locked out the top two positions in the most popular vehicle race, with the Fiesta selling 92,998 units and the Focus selling 84,036. The Vauxhall Corsa came next with 81,710 vehicles sold.

The South East was again the top region for used car sales, with 308,626 transactions in the region. This was followed by the North West, with 216,783 and the West Midlands, with 210,218 vehicles changing hands.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, ‘It’s great to see the used car sector remain in robust health as motorists take advantage of the exciting high-tech models filtering down from the new sector – including some of the latest low emission diesel and alternatively fuelled vehicles. However, with used sales so closely reflecting the new car market, some cooling is expected over the coming months. Given fleet renewal is the fastest way to improve air quality and reduce CO2, we need greater business and consumer confidence to keep both markets moving.’