Used car market still strong says SMMT, as two million change hands in third quarter

Time 3 years ago

BRITAIN’S used car market remained near recent record highs in the third quarter of 2018, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

Despite a sales dip of 2.1 per cent compared with the same period in 2017, there were 2,057,457 used transactions from July to September, with August the quarter’s best-selling month.

Buyers continued flocking to hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, with just shy of 30,000 transactions in the quarter. Demand surged 28.6 per cent as consumers took advantage of the increasing range of ultra-low and zero-emission cars entering the second-hand market, with pure electric cars posting an 8.3 per cent jump in sales over the same period.

Conventional petrol and diesel models still represented more than 98 per cent of all third-quarter transactions, as almost 850,000 diesel cars found new owners over the summer. Although overall sales of petrol and diesel vehicles dropped by 2.3 per cent and 2.6 per cent respectively, residual values for both have risen, perhaps indicating that drivers are holding on to their cars for longer.

Source: SMMT

In the third quarter, sales of dual-purpose and executive-segment cars grew by 6.2 per cent and 2.4 per cent respectively. Meanwhile, superminis remained the most popular used car buy, despite falling by 3.3 per cent, with 682,729 sold during the quarter and more than two million so far this year. In the overall year to date, more than 6.1 million cars have found new homes, supported by bumper summer months that included the busiest June on record.

Black remained the favourite car colour for the third successive quarter with 431,000 sold, followed by silver and blue. Orange showed the strongest growth, with sales up 9.9 per cent while, in contrast, green’s popularity fell the fastest, with 1996’s most popular new car colour posting a 17.1 per cent drop in sales.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes, pictured, said: ‘It is encouraging that the UK used car market has remained solid in the third quarter of the year, and good news that there is growing enthusiasm for alternatively powered vehicles.

‘The right policies and incentives from government are needed to encourage new car buyers to take up the latest, cleanest petrol, diesel and electric models that best suit their driving needs.

‘This would be the best way for these advanced technologies to filter through to the used market, helping to accelerate fleet renewal to improve air quality and meet climate change goals.’

Commenting on the results, AA Cars chief executive James Fairclough said: ‘Although today’s figures show a slight dip in used car transactions, we remain optimistic that this is just a temporary blip, rather than the beginning of a stagnation period.’ Meanwhile, Sean Kemple, director of sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance, said: ‘It’s been a complex few months for the motor industry, and today’s disappointing figures suggest that consumer uncertainty has overshadowed all else. However, dealers should not be disheartened.’

Auto Trader director Ian Plummer said: ‘The second-hand market continues to show great resilience, and offers plenty of opportunities for retailers managing a far more turbulent new car market. The prospects for the closing months of 2018 look equally promising.’

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