Used car market up 4.1% in Q2 as EV sales race ahead

Published:  29 August, 2023

The used car market grew by 4.1% during the second quarter of 2023, with 1,832,267 vehicles being sold hands, according to the latest figures from the SMMT, with 72,583 more cars sold in the period compared with 2022.

Despite the increase, the market for the quarter was still 9.9% below what was seen in 2019.
Used battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales were up by 81.8% to 30,645 units, and made up 1.7% of the total, up from 1.0% last year. Plug-in hybrid (PHEV) sales were up 11.4% to 18,437 units, while hybrid (HEV) sales increased 29.5% to 53,634.

Commenting on the figures, SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes said, “It’s great to see a recharged new car sector supporting demand for used cars and, in particular, helping more people to get behind the wheel of an electric vehicle. Meeting the undoubted appetite for pre-owned EVs will depend on sustaining a buoyant new car market and on the provision of accessible, reliable charging infrastructure powered by affordable, green energy. This, in turn, will allow more people to drive zero at a price point suited to them, helping accelerate delivery of our environmental goals.”

Matas Buzelis, car expert at carVertical, observed: “The used car market has bounced back strongly from a challenging 2022, recording annual sales growth in two successive quarters. Although the market is still dealing with supply shortages similar to those that dampened sales last year, the situation is much improved. UK car production has risen in five successive months, and this will further increase the availability of second-hand models. The fact that used car sales have risen despite the financial pressures households are under is very encouraging and bodes well for the rest of the year. However, cash-strapped households are much more likely to opt for cheaper vehicles, which come with more miles on the clock and more potential for problems. This puts drivers more at risk of buying a worn car that needs costly repairs down the road — overriding the savings they made by buying a cheaper model in the first place. Drivers need to make sure they look at the full history of any used car they are considering to ensure they are getting good value for money.”

Mark Oakley, Director of AA Cars, noted: “The used car market has shifted into high gear, with sales continuing to surge in Q2 and building on the momentum generated at the start of the year.

“The used car market’s resurgence comes after it weathered a challenging 2022 - total used sales shrank by 8.5% last year as supply issues and a weakening economy pegged back the number of cars coming onto the market and pushed up prices.

"But the strength of used sales in the first half of 2023 is cause for optimism about the road ahead. Separate SMMT data shows that new car sales have risen for 12 months in a row, and in many cases these cars were bought to replace an older model - meaning more used cars will make their way onto dealer forecourts in coming months.”

He concluded: "Electric vehicles - though only a small percentage of the used car market - are also making a substantial impact on sales due to their growing popularity and the greater number appearing on dealer forecourts.This trend has been further accelerated by the expansion of the ULEZ in London, with many drivers looking for a way to future-proof themselves as more cities consider rolling out or expanding clean air zones.”

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