Used car market bounces back in Q3

Published:  10 November, 2020

Continued consumer concerns about public transport during the Coronavirus pandemic may have helped the used car market increase by 4.4% in Q3 following two consecutive quarters of decline.

According to the latest figures published today (Tuesday 10 November) by the SMMT, during what has been the busiest quarter since the end of 2016, some 2,168,599 transactions took place between July and September. This was 92,217 more than the same period in 2019, with September recording the largest growth, up 6.3%.

Despite the growth, the UK’s used car market is still down with 1,070,941 fewer transactions over the first nine months representing a 17.5% overall decline.

Petrol and diesel cars made up 97.4% of all used transactions during the quarter, and both saw an increase in sales of 4.5% and 2.6% respectively. On the EV and hybrid front, demand for pre-owned battery electric vehicles, which saw a decline of 29.7% in Q2, recovered during Q3, growing by 34.4% and 4.4% in the year to date. Meanwhile, plug-in hybrid sales increased by 35.7%, with 10,040 changing hands.

Looking ahead, sales in the fourth quarter are expected to be heavily affected by the lockdowns imposed across the UK during the last few weeks.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “With England entering a fresh lockdown, and tighter COVID-19 restrictions in place across the rest of the UK, the car is playing an even more important role in keeping society moving as public transport becomes less attractive for many. It is encouraging to see used car sales returned to growth but, as the pandemic continues and outlets in many areas are being made to close again, the short-term outlook is less positive. Given these premises are often proven to be COVID-secure, we need them to re-open quickly to protect vital jobs and ensure no further delay to the fleet renewal necessary to deliver environmental improvements.”

Also commenting LKQ Euro Car Parts CEO Andy Hamilton observed:  “We expected demand for used cars to remain high throughout the last few months – this is good news for garages as it means more cars are driven back into the independent aftermarket.

“The growth we’re seeing in used car sales should give garages some hope as they prepare for the immediate impact of a second national lockdown, and as they continue to deal with the pent-up MOT demand created by the extension introduced in the first lockdown. We’re committed to helping garages manage this increased demand safely and to a high standard, using the latest digital tools and training to maximise the opportunity open to them.”

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