Used car market stays strong in Q1 with 2 million car transactions and a surge in zero emission vehicle demand

16 May 2018 #SMMT News
  • More than 2 million used cars change hands in quarter one, a -4.8% decline but still the third highest Q1 level on record.
  • AFV demand grows 15.9%, with sales of used, zero emission cars up more than a third (33.8%).
  • Superminis remain most popular used purchase, while dual purpose transactions enjoy fastest growth.

UK used car transactions - Q1 2018 and % change on 2017 YTD table WEB

Britain’s used car market had a relatively solid start to the year, with sales surpassing 2 million in the first three months, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 2,031,661 vehicles changed hands, a -4.8% (-102,295 units) year-on-year decline compared with Q1 2017.

Demand for petrol engine cars fell -9.7%, as diesel registrations rose 2.0% and interest in alternatively fuelled vehicles grew 15.9%, with some 24,697 hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric cars finding a new owner.

In particular, zero emission electric cars enjoyed a surge in popularity, with demand rising 33.8% to 2,927 units, followed by hybrids, which rose 14.1%. Together they represented 1.2% of all used car transactions in the quarter, while petrol fuelled models took a 55.9% market share and diesel 42.8%.

Elsewhere, trends closely followed the new car market, with black gaining ground to overtake silver/aluminium as the favourite used car colour, and blue, grey and white making up the rest of the top five. Superminis continued to be the most popular body type, followed by lower and upper medium, and then dual purpose – which enjoyed the fastest growth in Q1, up 12.8%, with more than 206,500 changing hands.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

Despite the overall decline in demand, the UK’s used car sector remains at a very high level and it’s great to see millions of consumers benefitting from some of the latest, safest and cleanest models now filtering into the market. To maintain this choice and make the fastest possible improvements to air quality, we need stability in the new car market. That means giving consumers confidence to trade in their older cars for the best new, low emission model to suit their needs – whatever the fuel type.


Notes to editors

Used car data supporting this release was sourced by SMMT from DVLA.

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