The UK’s used car market grew by 11.5% to 7,530,956 transactions in 2021, according to the latest figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
However, despite this growth, the 2021 performance was still 5.5% below the pre-pandemic five-year average.
In stark contrast to new car sales diesel vehicles achieved strong growth, up 9.8% to 3,046,751, and together with petrol car sales of 4,230,540, up 10.7% on the previous year, they made up 96.6% of all sales.
Annual demand for battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric (PHEVs) vehicles hit record levels, growing by 119.2% and 75.6% to 40,228 and 56,861 transactions respectively. Hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) transactions also rose by 50.3% to 137,639, a new high. Growth was driven by an increasing number of ultra-low and zero-emission models filtering through to second owners and, combined, these vehicles represented 3.1% of the market.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes commented: “It’s good to see the used car market return to growth, even if activity is still below where we were pre-pandemic. With the global shortage of semiconductors set to ease later this year, releasing the squeeze on new car supply, we expect more of the latest, cleanest and zero-emission models to become available for second owners.
“The demand for personal mobility has undoubtedly increased during the pandemic, so it’s vital we have healthy new car sales to drive fleet renewal and the used car market if we are to improve air quality and address climate change.”