There was good news this week as the latest figures revealed the used car market returned to growth in the first quarter. Transactions rose by 4.1% to surpass 1.8 million units after three quarters of decline, marking the best start to a year since 2020. Despite this welcome recovery, the market remains -8.6% shy of pre-pandemic levels, reflecting the impact of previous supply challenges and consumer decision-making in light of a tough economic backdrop.
Appetite did, however, continue to grow for used plug-in models. Battery electric vehicles were an increasingly popular choice, becoming the fastest growing powertrain as transactions rose by more than half. With the supply to the new car market continuing to improve and semiconductor chip shortages finally beginning to ease, we expect to see increasing numbers of the latest, cleanest and zero emission models become available to second owners. Sustaining this growth will be vital for our environmental and net zero goals, which require a buoyant new car market to drive supply into the used market.
Despite the growing number of new and used electrified vehicles on British roads, however, the most commonly cited barrier to take up remains infrastructure. Recent investment announcements are welcome but they must translate quickly into punitive charge points, chargers that are affordable, accessible and reliable. And this goes for commercial vehicles as readily as it does for passenger cars, get this right and ever more people will make the switch.
In other news, hot off the press is the latest industry keynote speaker announcement for the SMMT International Automotive Summit which will see us welcome Chris Gall, Group Engineering Director of Alexander Dennis, to take the stage. Taking place on 27 June in London with a focus on industry resilience, this is not an event to be missed. Tickets are on sale now and SMMT Member companies are eligible for a complimentary ticket. For more information, please contact the Events team.