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Used car market enjoys best ever second quarter as it grows by 108.6 per cent

  • Used car market grows 108.6 per cent in Q2 of 2021
  • April, May and June all experience record growth as country continues Covid recovery
  • Demand for full EVs and plug-in hybrids continues to grow

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The UK’s used car market experienced its best ever second quarter this year with a rise of 108.6 per cent, new data has revealed.

Statistics released today (August 10) by the SMMT show that 2,167,504 vehicles changed hands between April and June.

The figures are up 6.6 per cent on 2019 pre-pandemic levels and represents the best Q2 performance ever for the used car market.


The rise is down to a number of factors including the country’s gradual emergence from lockdown, higher demand for personal mobility and stock shortages, such as the ongoing semiconductor crisis.

The findings are chalk and cheese when compared to Q2 last year – when the economy ground to a near standstill as a result of the pandemic.

The biggest growth came in April, which was up 307.4 per cent on 2020 with 724,743 transactions in the month.

It was also five per cent higher than the same period in 2019.


All months in Q2 saw record growth, with May and June up 9.9 per cent and 4.6 per cent on 2019 respectively.

Overall, Q2 pushed the used car market up 33.3 per cent to 3,855,259 units over the first half of the year.

The best selling model was the Ford Fiesta with over 90,000 sales, while the best performing region was the south east with more than 300,000.

In terms of colours, black was the number one colour choice, with over 461,000 transactions.

The rest of the top three was made up of silver/aluminium and blue, which accounted for 54.8 per cent of all sales.

However, levels do remain 4.9 per cent down – or almost 200,000 units – compared to the 2019 market.

Electrified vehicles still have way to go despite rising popularity

Demand for both used battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles continued to grow in Q2.

The SMMT says buyers were keen to get their hands on the latest, green technology.

The market share for plug-in vehicles increased to 1.3 per cent of the used car market in the quarter.

Transactions for both full EVs and plug-in hybrids more than tripled in Q2 and were up 353.9 per cent and 349.8 per cent respectively to 10,903 and 16,202.

However, at 1.3 per cent of market share, the plug-in used car market is still not seeing the acceleration of uptake as has been seen in the new car market overall.

Petrol and diesel powertrains, meanwhile, made up 96.4 per cent of the quarter’s used car market at 2,090,396 units.

In addition, increased demand overall has led to an increase in sales of older used cars.


Only 12.7 per cent of all vehicles sold were under three years or under – the lowest figure on record.

All segments saw growth, with dual purpose seeing the biggest increase in Q2, up 147.7 per cent, pushing their market share to 13.5 per cent.

They are still behind superminis, which have a 31.9 per cent share of the market, and lower medium, which sit at 27 per cent.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: ‘This is welcome news for the used car market as transactions rebounded following nationwide lockdowns which closed retailers.

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‘More motorists are turning to used cars as supply shortages continue to affect the new car market, and the increased need for personal mobility with people remaining wary of public transport as they return to work.

‘A buoyant used car market is necessary to maintain strong residual values which, in turn, supports new car transactions.

‘We now need to see a similar rebound in new car sales to accelerate the fleet renewal necessary to deliver immediate and continuous improvements in air quality and carbon emissions.’

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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