Second-hand battery and electric cars are being sought by drivers, says the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders in their latest report on the used car market.
The UK’s used car market increased by 4.4% in Q3 after two consecutive quarters of decline, according to the latest figures published today by the SMMT.
During the busiest quarter since the end of 2016, some 2,168,599 transactions took place between July and September, 92,217 more than the same period in 2019, with September recording the largest growth, up 6.3%.
Despite the growth, spurred by the re-opening of showrooms and easing of lockdown measures across the country, the UK’s used car market is still down with 1,070,941 fewer transactions over the first nine months representing a decline of -17.5% overall.
With England entering a new lockdown and the introduction of tougher restrictions and ‘firebreaks’ across the devolved nations, sales in the fourth quarter are expected to be heavily affected.
The swift re-opening of used car outlets – which are generally spacious premises with outdoor areas and which can accommodate social distancing far more easily than other retail environments – would go a long way to help prevent further subdued activity in the market, enabling the latest, lowest emitting vehicles to filter through to second owners.
Demand for pre-owned battery electric vehicles (BEVs), which saw a decline of -29.7% in the Q2 – albeit a lesser one than the market average of -48.9% – recovered during Q3, growing by 34.4% and 4.4% in the year to date. At the same time, sales of plug-in hybrids increased by 35.7%, with 10,040 changing hands.
Petrol and diesel cars both saw an increase in sales of 4.5% and 2.6% respectively, accounting for 97.42% of all used transactions during the quarter.
SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said, “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.”
Seán Kemple, Managing Director at Close Brothers Motor Finance said,“In the current climate, it’s positive to see growth in used car registrations.
“The release of pent-up demand caused by the first national lockdown has spiked sales over this period, and the market has been able to hold onto a steady performance despite the sweeping restrictions hitting the car industry.
“Throughout the pandemic, consumers have turned to used cars and alternative finance for more affordable options. Consumer preference has also shifted from public transport to owning a vehicle, and this has helped to boost the used car market this quarter.”
He went on, “Opposite to the new car market, which has seen dwindling demand, diesel registrations have been strong for used cars. This comes down to buyers spending time researching their car and understanding the fuel type that’ll suit their needs.
“Petrol sales remain strong, and alternative fuelled vehicle (AFVs) sales have also risen, although this is far from the rate of increase that we’ve seen for new cars.
“While the new car market has dealt with numerous challenges over recent months, namely lack of production and long lead times, the used car market has benefited from buyers making a shift from new to used.”
In another survey, Government figures show 19,487 public charging points now exist in the UK.
RAC data insight spokesman Rod Dennis said: “The rise in the number of charge points across the UK is very encouraging and sends all the right signals to drivers who might be thinking about opting for an electric model next time they change their car. Add in the fact that many people with electric cars can charge from home and overall it’s a positive picture.
“But there’s still a way to go and the focus now needs to be on installing as many fast chargers as possible, given that less than a fifth of public chargers are rapid.