The UK’s bestselling cars – what used cars sold well in 2022?

The UK’s bestselling cars – what used cars sold well in 2022? <i>(Image: Getty images)</i>
The UK’s bestselling cars – what used cars sold well in 2022? (Image: Getty images)

The used car market is valued at contributing nearly £100 billion to the UK economy, with 5.3 million cars sold in 2022 to the end of September. It’s forecast to double in value over the next five years. Used cars make up the majority of all car sales in the UK: normally, four times more used cars are sold than new models each year.

Looking back on 2022, it’s been record-breakingly turbulent for the economy, after a few years that were already unpredictable and difficult. So, what are the headline trends for the used car market?

By the end of September, used car sales were down nearly 10% year-on-year from 2021 levels. New car registrations were also down – albeit by a more resilient 5%. But, decline isn’t the only story. There is also significant growth in electric vehicles (EVs) in the used market as well as new.

Read on for the 2022 market reports, which we compare with Motorway data to see if national statistics are consistent with our nationwide, online marketplace.

What factors affected the number of cars sold in 2022?

The third quarter has traditionally always been the peak season for selling used cars in the UK, so it’s an important point to take stock. On 10th November 2022, the SMMT published their third quarter and year-to-date findings for the used car market. Although it doesn’t always work in lockstep with the new car market, it’s useful to compare trends.

The first important point to note is that the number of new car registrations in the UK was down by about 5% from 2021. It’s important to note that these numbers have been in decline every year since 2016, so the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was not the turning point for this trend.

Bournemouth Echo: SMMT data confirms a year-on-year dip across the new and used car markets
Bournemouth Echo: SMMT data confirms a year-on-year dip across the new and used car markets

SMMT data confirms a year-on-year dip across the new and used car markets (Image: Motorway)

On the whole, new cars struggled in 2021 due to semiconductor and chip shortages impacting availability. While this helped to sustain the used car market in 2021, 2022 has been less resilient.

The shortages and low levels of new car sales since 2020 have led to low stock of nearly-new cars on the used market, which are always very popular.

Despite generally downward market trends, Motorway continues to grow fast. The number of used cars sold through Motorway more than doubled during the peak season of 2022 versus the previous year.

What were the most popular cars in 2022?

So far this year, the ever-popular Nissan Qashqai is the UK’s bestselling new car, knocking last year’s winner Vauxhall Corsa into second place. However, the Ford Fiesta has had a surge of sales in the autumn, since news spread that production of the ever-popular family car will cease for the UK market in 2023.

It seems likely that the Ford Fiesta will stay popular on the used market for some time too, especially for very new and recent models, as drivers will be sad to see this reliable family vehicle phased out.

In fact, according to Motorway data, the Ford Fiesta is the bestselling used car model this year. This is consistent with the SMMT reporting that superminis (the Fiesta’s class) retained its more than 30% market share in the 2022 used car market despite general downward trends in other segments.

Bournemouth Echo: Though production of the much-loved ‘supermini’ Ford Fiesta will cease in 2023, this car is set to stay popular on the used market for some time
Bournemouth Echo: Though production of the much-loved ‘supermini’ Ford Fiesta will cease in 2023, this car is set to stay popular on the used market for some time

Though production of the much-loved ‘supermini’ Ford Fiesta will cease in 2023, this car is set to stay popular on the used market for some time (Image: Motorway)

The most popular car brand among the Motorway dealer network in 2022, in terms of engagement, was Volkswagen. Unsurprisingly, BMW and Ford were very close behind. Despite the industry dip in sales numbers, these evergreen car brands do not seem to be losing out to more affordable competitors just yet.

What brands are always popular in the used-car market?

At Motorway, we see a huge range of car brands valued and sold on our site. All sorts of vehicles are represented: everything from Tesla to Smart cars, from Porsche to Dacia.

In 2022, the car brands with the highest number of valuations and sales on the Motorway platform are BMW, Volkswagen and Ford. This is no surprise – as stated above, these brands have always enjoyed a major share of the used-car market. In 2021, Ford, Vauxhall, Volkswagen, and BMW were the most-sold used cars in the UK.

Bournemouth Echo: Vauxhall is one of Motorway’s top-ten car brands, and across the national used-car marketplace, Vauxhall Corsa is the second-most sold passenger car
Bournemouth Echo: Vauxhall is one of Motorway’s top-ten car brands, and across the national used-car marketplace, Vauxhall Corsa is the second-most sold passenger car

Vauxhall is one of Motorway’s top-ten car brands, and across the national used-car marketplace, Vauxhall Corsa is the second-most sold passenger car (Image: Motorway)

Since these vehicles are known to be reliable and desirable, owners have confidence in achieving a good price for them, rather than opting to run them until they’re too old to stay on the road.

With nearly 10,000 sales each of Ford, BMW, and Volkswagen cars through Motorway so far in 2022, we can see a strong signal that dealers still have an appetite for buying the quality cars they’ve always favoured.

What are the used car electrification trends in 2022?

Given policy changes such as low emission zones in UK cities, and other incentives to make the switch to EV, we can expect to see EV sales continually increase across the new and used-car markets.

Bournemouth Echo: We can expect to see EV sales continually increase
Bournemouth Echo: We can expect to see EV sales continually increase

We can expect to see EV sales continually increase (Image: Motorway)

Although overall market figures are down, electrification has been pushing significant growth within the used-car market. EVs accounted for 4% of all used cars sold during the first three quarters of 2022. This is up nearly 20% from 2021, a clear indication of the public embracing EVs, and particularly of people finding affordable routes to EV ownership through the used car market.

Motorway kicked off 2022 with EVs accounting for 5.6% of sales in January. By September, 7% of all cars sold on Motorway’s network were EVs. Compared to the national level of 4%, Motorway has clearly been leading the charge in facilitating EV sales.

Alex Buttle, Co-Founder of Motorway, says, “what is clear is that used EVs are becoming the hottest ticket in town – with lengthy wait times for new cars of up to a year, motorists have realised that the used market is the quickest, and most affordable, way to make their switch to electric. As more drivers make the leap, demand for used EVs will continue to soar.”

 

 

By far the most popular used EVs in 2022 have been hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), accounting for more than battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) combined. For many drivers, these are the ‘happy medium’ between traditional petrol engines and EVs.

They represent better fuel economy than petrol or diesel cars, but don’t need charging like BEVs or PHEVs. The world’s best selling hybrid car is the Toyota Prius, which was first launched in 1997. They’ve dominated the ‘eco-friendly car’ category for decades, largely because owners have confidence that they won’t run out of range mid-drive, without a charger available.

However, hybrid vehicles will be phased out in the transition to zero-emission transport, so the distribution of different EV types across the coming years will be interesting to watch. Increasingly, leading car brands are producing plug-in hybrid versions of their existing fossil fuel engine cars, as a quick fix while they’re developing new, higher-performance BEVs.

Bournemouth Echo: HEVs are leading used EV sales, but this is likely to change over the coming years as BEVs and PHEVs take over on the new car market
Bournemouth Echo: HEVs are leading used EV sales, but this is likely to change over the coming years as BEVs and PHEVs take over on the new car market

HEVs are leading used EV sales, but this is likely to change over the coming years as BEVs and PHEVs take over on the new car market (Image: Motorway)

How to sell your car on Motorway

Selling your car with Motorway is a quick, simple, and completely free method of getting the best price when selling, whatever the model.

Just enter your reg on the homepage and you will be provided with an instant estimated sale price based on up-to-the-minute market data. Then, complete your vehicle profile. This is easy and can be done right from your phone, in a matter of minutes!

If you choose to enter your car into a daily sale, it will be shown to our nationwide network of more than 5,000 verified dealers looking to add to their stock of used cars.

In as little as 24 hours you will receive your best offer – and, if you choose to go ahead with the sale, your car will be collected for free by the dealer and the money will be quickly and securely transferred to your bank account.

This article was brought to you by Motorway

Motorway is the fastest-growing used car marketplace. They connect people selling their car directly with a network of more than 5,000 verified car dealers, matching each seller with the dealer who wants to buy their car.