The used car market in 2018 was slightly down on the previous 12 months, dropping 2.1% to 7,945,040 transactions, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders.
However, it was still the third highest year on records going back to 2001.
Hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric car sales rose by 27 to 106,658. Meanwhile, while conventional petrol and diesel models outperformed trends in the new car market, with petrol showing a full-year decline of just 4.2% and diesel holding steady with a 0.3% increase.
While superminis remained the largest segment with a 33% used car market share, sales were down 3.7% to 2,618,544. In contrast, sales of larger dual purpose and executive cars were up by 9.3% and 2.3% respectively. All other segments recorded a fall during the period.
Black cars remained a favourite among used buyers, with more than 1.6 million of them changing hands. Silver and blue were the next most popular colours, maintaining a 59% market share between the top three. Current new car favourite grey could only manage fourth place in the used market, which will surely change over the next few years as supply filters through to used buyers. Orange, up 9.7%, showed the strongest growth of all colours during the year, with 46,416 buyers opting for the hue. On the other hand, green cars fell in favour, with sales dropping by 16.6% to 202,561.
“It’s encouraging to see more used car buyers snapping up low-emission vehicles as supply grows – but those sales remain low as an overall proportion of the market,” Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s Chief Executive, said. “We still need the right government policies and incentives to give new car buyers confidence to choose the cleanest petrol, diesel and electric models that best suit their needs, so that even more drivers can benefit from this exciting technology as it filters down to the used market in the coming years.”
Nathan Coe, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Auto Trader, commented: “While the impact of the ongoing fuel debate, WLTP regulations and Brexit anxieties were keenly felt in the new car market, the used car market has shown resilience. It highlights that despite the dent in consumer confidence, demand remains high as consumers continue to change their cars on average every 3.3 years.
“The new car market may be turning its back on diesel, but there is still a healthy demand for the second-hand variant. Today, while the UK car parc is still slightly more skewed to petrol, it’s not surprising to see used diesels selling at a similar rate to their petrol counterparts. And contrary to expectation, despite the decline in the new car market, our data shows that used diesel prices are not only growing, but growing at a faster rate than petrol.”