Used car sales dropped by just 1.1 per cent last year, with more than 8.1 million cars changing hands.
Figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed that despite a 5.1 per cent slump in the final quarter of 2017, used car sales hit their second highest level ever with 8,113,020 transactions. This follows the all-time record set in 2016 of 8,200,084, which was itself a 7.3 per cent rise on the year before.
Smaller cars were again the most popular, with the Ford Fiesta (375,630) and Focus (347,691) taking the top two spots, followed by Vauxhall’s Corsa (333,999) and Astra (285,654) models. The Volkswagen Golf came in fifth with 260,329.
The data also revealed that there was still a demand for diesel cars, despite lessening public demand for the new car variant. Second-hand diesel sales rose by 3.3 per cent, while petrol cars saw a 4.3 per cent decline. Hybrid sales grew 22 per cent to 73,864 and electric sales rose 77.1 per cent to 10,199.
The South East was the region with the most used car sales, with a staggering 1,205,166 transactions in 2017. This was over 300,000 more than the North West (848,336) in second. The West Midlands (796,633), the East (792,378) and the South West (774,776) filled the rest of the top five list.
Silver (1,737,339) remained the nation’s most popular used car colour, despite sales falling 6.5 per cent, while black (1,659,696) and blue (1,468,634) took second and third places. White, at number five, posted the largest increase of any top 10 colour, rising 10.7 per cent to 854,773 sales. Green (242,948) experienced the greatest decline in demand as 16.9 per cent fewer buyers chose the colour.
Despite a -5.1% fall in the market in the fourth quarter, annual used car transactions were at their second highest level, following the all-time record set in 2016 https://t.co/VdXF4LRa8s pic.twitter.com/hpa0OOiAr6
— SMMT (@SMMT) February 14, 2018
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Britain’s used car buyers are enjoying more choice than ever, and it’s great to see millions of people taking advantage of the low emission, safety and convenience technology filtering into this market.
“While such healthy demand is reassuring, to keep it that way and accelerate renewal throughout the fleet – the fastest way to improve air quality – government must now restore confidence to the new car sector.
“Given the recent economic and fiscal uncertainty, particularly over diesel, consumers and businesses need clarity to encourage them to move out of their older vehicles and into newer, lower emission cars – whatever their fuel type.”
Nathan Coe, Auto Trader’s chief operating officer, said: “Looking ahead to this year, industry forecasts suggest the new car market will decline at similar levels to 2017, and used is likely to prove resilient again with perhaps a similar decline to 2017 not least due to less part-exchange supply on new cars.
“As we’ve seen on our marketplace already this year, there’s a high level of consumer interest for vehicles, with nearly 146 million vehicle searches conducted in January alone, and as finance continues to be a key purchase driver, there remains real opportunity within the used car market.”