Demand for second-hand diesel cars has remained stable, but a decrease in petrol car sales led to an overall fall in UK used car transactions, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

In the first six months of 2017, demand for diesel cars remained strong, with 1,628,045 changing hands, a 0.1% year-on-year decline. Meanwhile, petrol sales decreased by 8.9% to 2,291,328 units, while alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) rose 24.2% with electric cars enjoying particularly strong growth – up 79.3%. However, volumes remain low with AFVs currently accounting for just 1.2% of the market.

Figures for the first half of the year showed a decrease in demand to 3,966,356 sales, 5.1% lower than the record levels seen in the same period in 2016.

However, the decline accelerated in the second quarter with 1,832,400 used cars changing hands, a fall of 13.5% on the same period a year ago.

Superminis remained the most popular used vehicle type in the second quarter, with more than 600,000 buyers accounting for a third (32.7%) of the market, followed by small family cars, with almost half a million changing hands. Minis and SUVs were the only two segments to show growth – up 5.7% and 3.5% respectively, echoing the trend in the new car market. 

Meanwhile, black took top position as most popular colour for used cars, chosen by a fifth (21.0%) of motorists and knocking silver off the top spot after several years at number one. Cream, white and brown were the only colours to grow in popularity, up 18.2%, 10.6% and 5.4%.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “With used car sales closely mirroring what we see in the new car market, last quarter’s decline comes as no surprise – and with demand easing over recent months, this could offer motorists the opportunity to get some great deals.

“However, although the market remains at an exceptionally high level, given the softening we’ve seen in registrations of new cars in more recent months, looking ahead it is vital that government secures the conditions that will maintain consumer and business confidence if we are to see both markets continue to prosper.”