UK used car market bounces back 0.9% in Q3

13 November 2019 #SMMT News
  • UK used car sales grow 0.9% in Q3 with 18,925 more changing hands than in the same period in 2018.
  • July market posts strongest performance since May 2018, but quiet September flattens Q3 performance.
  • Diesel, plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles up in the quarter, with petrol performance marginally down.
  • Year to date transactions fall -0.8%, but more than six million transactions still made in first nine months.

Download the used car sales report for Q3 2019

The UK’s used car market increased by 0.9% in Q3 after nine straight quarters of decline, according to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 2,076,382 transactions took place between July and September, 18,925 more than the same period in 2018.

Demand for diesel models was up 1.4% in the quarter with 858,442 changing hands, while petrol sales were flat with a slight drop of -0.2%. Plug-in electric and hybrid models showed a solid increase of 13.0%, totalling 37,589 units and increasing their share of sales to 1.8% from 1.6% in Q3 2018.

Superminis remained the most popular segment, reflecting the trend in the new car market, with 684,929 changing hands, accounting for 33.0% of transactions. The lower medium and upper medium segments were the next most popular, with 27.0% and 11.7% shares respectively. Meanwhile, the dual purpose segment showed the largest percentage growth (15.2%) with 11.6% market share.

In other trends, black held its position as the number one colour among used car buyers, ahead of silver/aluminium and blue, with 57.1% of used cars sold in the third quarter clad in the top three colours. Orange overtook beige during the period to grab eighth place in the top 10, while bronze was the biggest grower, up 14.7%, albeit representing just 5,132 of the 2.1 million cars sold in the quarter.

The stronger Q3 performance wasn’t quite enough to offset declines in the previous two quarters, with 51,785 fewer transactions in the first nine months of the year and the market down -0.8%. Despite the recent weaker demand, at 6,130,762 units, the market remains at a relatively high level.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

This growth, following a prolonged period of decline, is encouraging and it’s great to see a growing appetite for plug-in and hybrid models as they start to filter down to the used market. However, ongoing economic uncertainty and growing confusion over local clean air zones make it difficult to predict the future.

To make meaningful environmental gains, we need to get more of the latest, lowest emitting cars on to our roads replacing older ones quickly – and that means delivering the right conditions and policies to give new and used buyers confidence to invest in the vehicles that best suit their driving needs and budgets.

Notes to editors

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

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