The UK’s used car market rose by 4.1% during the second quarter of the year, with 1,832,267 units changing hands, according to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
The increase equates to an additional 72,583 transactions compared with the same period in 2022, reflecting sustained growth in the new car market and improving availability. The easing of supply chain disruptions has driven sales growth in every month so far this year and, although the Q2 market remains -9.9% below 2019 levels, its recovery continues apace.
Used battery electric vehicle (BEVs) sales continued to soar in the second quarter, growing by 81.8% to 30,645 units, representing 1.7% of the market – a new record – up from 1.0% last year.
Double-digit growth also continued for plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and hybrids (HEVs), up 11.4% to 18,437 units and 29.5% to 53,634 units respectively. The rising proportion of electrified vehicles meant that market share for conventionally powered cars fell marginally to 94.3% from 95.7% last year, even though volumes of petrol and diesel cars saw growth of 2.5% and 2.8% respectively.
Superminis remained the best-selling used vehicle type, making up 31.5% of transactions and growing by 4.4% to 576,980 units. This was followed by lower medium, accounting for 26.5% of the market, while dual-purpose cars rounded off the top three with a 15.1% share.
Black retained its position as the most popular colour choice for the 10th quarter in a row, representing more than one in five (21.3%) transactions. It was followed by grey and blue in second and third places with respective 16.9% and 16.3% market shares.
Says Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive:
“It’s great to see a recharged new car sector supporting demand for used cars and, in particular, helping more people to get behind the wheel of an electric vehicle.
“Meeting the undoubted appetite for pre-owned EVs will depend on sustaining a buoyant new car market and on the provision of accessible, reliable charging infrastructure powered by affordable, green energy. This, in turn, will allow more people to drive zero at a price point suited to them, helping accelerate delivery of our environmental goals.”
Adds Kevin Pratt, car insurance expert at Forbes Advisor:
“We may look back at the second quarter of 2023 as a turning point in the fortunes of electric vehicles in the UK. The transition away from internal combustion engines only has a hope of succeeding if there is a buoyant second-hand EV market, with affordable options for those who cannot afford the high price of new vehicles. An increase of over 80% in the sale of second hand EVs in the period April – June confirms there is a rapidly growing appetite for these cars, facilitated by the growth in new EV sales over previous quarters. The market is maturing fast.
“That said, the bold figure is that EV sales only account for 1.7% of the second-hand market – just over 30,600 out of 1.8 million sales in Q2. The kind of growth we’re now seeing will need to be sustained if the government is to hit its targets for transitioning the UK private car fleet.”