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Used Car Sales on the Up!

At last some good news for the UK motor trade!

In recent years, ongoing consumer uncertainty has had a damaging impact on the market for both new and used car sales in the United Kingdom.

growth chartAccording to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the downward pressure on ‘new’ car registrations alone has continued throughout 2019, with sales down by 2.5% year-on-year in the first three quarters of 2019, and down 6.7% year-on-year in the month of October alone.

However, after 27 months of decline, the motor trade association provided a glimmer of hope for the used car market.

Its latest figures show that used car sales rose by 0.9%, year-on-year in 2019, as confusion over the creation of local clean air zones and their implications for new cars, among other factors, led buyers to take advantage of the wide range of competitively priced used cars available from the motor trade.

Over 2 million used cars were sold between July and September 2019, an increase of nearly 20,000 units on the same period in 2018, and the news might have been better still had the third quarter finished with the same vigour with which it began.

The depreciation of new cars often quoted at 20% as soon as car leaves the forecourt and 30% by the end of the first year, may have inevitably played its part. So, too, may have the reduced cost of an insurance policy for a used car when compared with a new vehicle.

Even so, the overall figure for used car sales was bolstered by a 13% rise in the number of second-hand electric plug-in and hybrid vehicles sold in the third quarter of 2019, compared with the same period in 2018.

In the UK, electric vehicles now constitute 1.8% of the total used car market, up from 1.6%. Chief Executive Officer of the SMMT, Mike Hawes expressed his delight at the latest figures, saying, “and it’s great to see a growing appetite for plug-in and hybrid models as they start to filter down to the used market.”

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Understandably, the latest SMMT figures were welcomed, albeit cautiously by the motor trade. Director of Sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance, Sean Kemple, said, “while new car sales have had a tough year, this has been to the benefit of the used market as buyers look to cut costs.”

That sentiment was echoed by Chief Executive Office at AA Cars, James Fairclough, who added, “The new car market’s loss is proving the used market’s gain.”

Elsewhere in the used car sector, so-called superminis headed by the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Ford Focus, accounted for 33% of used vehicle sales.

Diesel cars bucked the trend in the new car market, where sales generally remain in freefall, they showed a 1.4% increase year-on-year, while petrol cars showed little change and were down by just 0.2% year-on-year.

Let’s hope the upwards trend continues into 2020.