UK used car market stays strong in 2017, as 8.1 million vehicles change hands

14 February 2018 #SMMT News
  • 8,113,020 used cars change hands in 2017, a -1.1% dip but still second highest total on record.
  • Demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles rises 21.3%, with zero emission used car sales up 77.1% – surpassing 10,000 for first time.
  • Superminis remain UK’s favourite used buy, while SUV demand grows 9.5%, reflecting new car market trend.

Download the used car sales report for 2017

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.

Across the UK, the majority of used car transactions took place in the South East, with more than 1.2 million vehicles finding new owners in the region, followed by the North West and West Midlands. The UK’s best-selling used model remained the Ford Fiesta, closely followed by the Ford Focus and Vauxhall Corsa.

Silver remained the nation’s most popular used car colour, despite sales falling -6.5%, while black and blue took second and third places. White, at number five, posted the largest increase of any top 10 colour, rising 10.7% and reflecting the increased popularity of this colour as new, while green experienced the greatest decline in demand as -16.9% fewer buyers chose the colour.

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.

Used car sales top 10 regions 2017

Used car sales top 10 models 2017

Used car sales 2017 top 10 colours

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