CEO Update

Used car sales soar in second quarter

13 August 2021 #CEO Update

Global supply shortages – most notably semiconductors – as well as the self-isolation of workers is continuing to affect new car production, and therefore the new car market. However, this disruption, coupled with the increased need for personal mobility as people return to work, has resulted in a booming used car market.

Q2 2021 was the best second quarter for used car transactions since records began – falling just short of the best quarter ever – with almost 2.2 million used cars changing hands, a year-on-year increase of 108.6% and a 6.6% uplift on 2019 pre-pandemic levels.

As demand has increased for used cars, it is little surprise that demand for second-hand plug-ins has also grown significantly, with battery electric and plug-in hybrid transactions more than tripling in Q2. Buyers remain keen to get their hands on the latest, green technology and have seen their product options increase although it is worth noting that the used car plug in market is still only 1.3% demonstrating just how far we have to go.

To drive greater uptake of used electrified vehicles a buoyant new car market is needed and, whilst additional models are coming to market in increasing numbers, a package of supportive measures is still necessary. This means a commitment to fiscal incentives, including the plug-in car grant and other purchase incentives, as well as a massive expansion of charging infrastructure with around 2.3 million public charge points needed in service by 2030.

Only a healthy new car market will mean more zero-emission models transitioning to second owners, accelerating the fleet renewal necessary to deliver immediate and continuous improvements in air quality and carbon emissions.

Finally, tickets are available for members for SMMT’s Annual Dinner on Tuesday 23 November 2021. Following last year’s online only occasion, we are hoping to hold this event in person, albeit with a decreased capacity, and it remains one of the most prestigious occasions in the automotive calendar, attended by guests from industry, government and media.

This year will see SMMT President, Dr George Gillespie OBE, Executive Chairman, HORIBA MIRA give a keynote speech alongside a guest speaker to be announced in due course. To purchase tickets, please contact

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