Decline in used car sales halted as more become available

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The fall in used car sales has been halted as growth in the new vehicle market means more are available, figures show.

Some 1.8 million cars changed hands in the UK between January and March, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

That represented a 4.1% increase on the same period in 2022, and followed three successive quarters of decline.

Despite the rise, the number of transactions during the first three months of the year remained 8.6% below pre-pandemic levels.

This reflects “the ongoing impact of supply challenges and consumer sentiment in light of the economic backdrop”, according to the SMMT.

Pure battery electric cars were the fastest growing powertrain in the used car market between January and March, with transactions rising 56.5% year on year to 26,257 units.

That represented a market share of 1.4%, up from 0.9% a year ago.

The UK’s new car market has grown for nine consecutive months.

Some 132,990 new cars were registered last month, up 11.6% from April 2022.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Easing supply chain challenges have re-energised new car registrations, unlocking availability in the used market and, importantly, delivering more zero emission-capable vehicles to second and third owners.

“Sustaining that growth is vital for our environmental goals, which means bolstering the new car market to drive supply to the used sector.

“Infrastructure rollout must also improve – and at speed – with affordable and reliable charging essential if more used buyers are to switch to the latest and cleanest available vehicles.”

“As the figures show, used car sales still have ground to make up to get back to pre-pandemic levels due to production disruption, but the shortage of vehicles also drove used car prices overall up at the fastest pace for 17 months in April.”

Alex Buttle, co-founder of used car marketplace, said: “Motorists frustrated with lengthy wait times for new cars turned to the used market to get exactly what they wanted – in a fraction of the time – especially at the nearly new, premium end of the market.

“With the cost-of-living crisis impacting consumer spending power, people have been quick to turn to the used car market for more value.”

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