The UK’s used car market increased by 4.4% in the third quarter of this year after two consecutive quarters of decline, according to the latest figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (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 tighter restrictions across the devolved nations, sales in the fourth quarter are expected to be heavily affected.
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 chief executive Mike Hawes said: “With England entering a fresh lockdown, and tighter Covid 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.”