14 August, 2019

The UK’s used car market drops again in Q2

The UK’s used car market declined for the second quarter in succession during Q2 2018, although it remains buoyant compared to new vehicle registrations.

The latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows a moderate drop of 2.8% compared to the same three months of last year. A total of 2,034,236 transactions took place, representing a shortfall of fewer than 60,000 units as the market shows further signs of slowing.

Used car sales have fallen in every month this year apart from March when they rose just 1.9%. In the second quarter, drops in the North West, Scotland and the South East drove the decline, while all other regions experienced increases in demand. Cities topping the list for used car sales were London, Birmingham and Sheffield.

Fuel types

Demand for petrol and diesel models declined in the second quarter, down by 3.7% and 2.5% respectively. However, combined sales of the fuel types still made up 98.3% of the market. As diesel sales are down 19.7% in the new car market year-to-date, the smaller decline in used sales suggests there is still an appetite for the technology, especially in cars registered before vehicle excise duty (VED) rates changed to increase tax on diesel cars. However, as time goes on, and with fewer older diesels available, this number is likely to drop further.

Demand for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric cars continued to grow, up 24.8%, with 33,492 models changing hands. Of these alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), pure electrics experienced the largest growth, up 32.8%, with hybrids also rising 25% to 29,321 units, but this growth was unable to offset losses elsewhere.

Colour trends

Reflecting trends in the new car market, superminis remained by far the most popular used buy, with 665,469 of these smaller cars finding new owners, while the dual-purpose segment enjoyed the largest growth, up 9.1% to 227,197 units. One in five used cars bought in Q2 were black, buyers’ favourite colour choice ahead of silver/aluminium and blue, with pink the least popular of all despite a 20.3% rise in transactions, the largest uplift of any colour.

‘With the country still gripped by economic and political uncertainty, it’s perhaps unsurprising to see the used car market slowing down,' explained SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

‘This means owners are often holding on to their cars for longer, delaying the widespread introduction of the latest, cleanest models which is not good for air quality. We need a boost to consumer confidence, something that a Brexit deal would deliver, to improve the fortunes of the industry and the wider economy.’