SMMT News Used Car Sales

Used car market up as EV sales reach record levels

08 February 2024 #SMMT News #Used Car Sales
  • UK used car transactions grow 5.1% in 2023, with 7,242,692 changing hands as improving new car market re-energises supply.
  • Superminis and black paint most popular used car style choices, taking 32.1% and 21.4% of the market respectively.
  • Battery electric car sales almost doubled, up by 90.9% to 118,973 – but at just 1.6% of the market, industry calls for VAT cut on new EVs so future supply can grow to meet second hand demand.

Download the used car sales report for Q4 2023

The UK’s used car market grew by 5.1% to 7,242,692 transactions in 2023, according to the latest figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Four straight quarters of growth saw 351,915 more motorists get behind the wheel of a second hand car than in 2022 as the previous year’s supply constraints receded, delivering more choice to buyers.1

Superminis once again proved the most popular used car body type, accounting for one in three (32.1%) sales in the year. They were followed closely by cars in the lower medium segment, which took 26.6% of the market, and dual purpose vehicles (15.2%). The smallest volume segment was luxury saloons, representing just 0.5% of transactions.

Bucking the grey trend in the new market, black cars were the most popular used purchases, with more than 1.5 million buyers (21.4%) choosing the colour. Grey, however, increased its ranking, displacing blue to take second place. At the niche end of the spectrum, 4,870 buyers opted for pink, while 4,686 cream cars found new owners, and maroon represented 4,585 transactions.

Across the year, sales of used battery electric cars (BEV) almost doubled, rising 90.9% to a record 118,973 units and a 1.6% share of the overall market, up from 0.9% in 2022. The uplift is in line with growth in the new car sector and demonstrates keen demand for zero emission motoring in this naturally more affordable price bracket.

Sales of hybrid electric and plug-in hybrid electric cars were also strong, up by 40.0% and 25.1% respectively and, collectively, electrified vehicles represented 5.6% of the market – up from 4.0% in 2022. Diesel and petrol, however, remained the most dominant fuel types, with a total of 6,827,466 units changing hands – 94.3% of the overall market.2

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

A healthy new car market is key to driving choice in the used sector and it’s great to see record numbers of second and third owners benefitting from the growing availability of electric vehicles. The demand is there, but to sustain it we must enable every motorist to make the switch. The upcoming Budget is a prime opportunity for government to do just that – halving VAT on new EVs, while making public charging as easy and affordable as plugging in at home, would ensure a faster and fairer transition for all, giving the UK a green economic boost.

Notes to editors

Please note that this release references revised data for used car sales in 2022 – please see for the full revised 2022 news release.

1 FY used car sales, 2022: 6,890,777 units.
2 Used diesel figures, 2023: 2,747,911 units; Used petrol figures, 2023: 4,079,555 units.

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