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November 9, 2021

EVs remain popular UK used vehicle buys

Fewer new car sales meant a reduced number of used vehicles were traded in so overall sales were down.

By Graeme Roberts

Demand for used battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles continued to grow in the third quarter of 2021, according to The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Reflecting recent trends in both the new and used markets, transactions rose by 56.4% and 43.3% to 14,182 and 14,990 respectively. The number of used BEVs sold during the period was the highest recorded in any quarter. Hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) transactions also increased, by 20.3% to 40,157.

As the choice of new zero emission models on sale grew, market share for all used plug-in vehicles increased to 1.4%, up from 0.9% in 2020.

Petrol and diesel powertrains continued to dominate, however, comprising 96.4% of all transactions equivalent to 1,959,955 units, although demand for both declined, by 6.9% and 7.6% respectively.

The strong plug-in performance came despite the UK used car market falling 6.2% in the third quarter of 2021. 2,034,342 vehicles were sold, 134,257 less than in Q3 2020 when the re-opening of showrooms and easing of lockdown measures saw the market bounce back strongly.

Used car transactions declined in every month across the quarter, with July, August and September all falling, by 4.9%, 5.9% and 7.9% respectively. Overall, the period was down 2% on 2019 pre-pandemic, making it the weakest Q3 since 2015.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Given the circumstances, with the global pandemic causing a shortage of semiconductors needed to produce new vehicles, undermining the new car market, used transactions were always going to suffer too.”

Supermini was the most popular used car segment, taking a third of the market (33.0%), followed by lower medium (26.0%) and dual purpose (13.0%). All segments saw declines with MPVs falling most, down 13.1% in the third quarter.

Black remained the most popular colour choice with 436,511 transactions, followed by silver and blue. Only two colours saw their sales increase during Q3 with orange rising by 3.6% and brown up 1.1%.

Thanks to record sales earlier in the year, the used market YTD was 16.4% up on 2020 to 5,889,601 units, an increase of 829,780 sales. The overall market, was however, 3.9%, or 241,160 units off the 2019 Q3 YTD total.

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