cars parked

Britain’s used car market dropped slightly last year, although sales were still the third highest on record.

In total, there were nearly 8 million used car transactions last year, a fall of just over 2.1%, according to new figures from the Society of Motor
Manufacturers and Traders.

The decline was caused by a drop in sales of petrol vehicles, which fell 4.2% compared to 2017, while diesel sales rose 0.3%.

This is in stark contrast to the new car market, where diesel sales were down around one-third last year as buyers were discouraged by government tax policies, particularly for company cars, and proposals for clean air zones among local authorities.

Falling demand was offset partly by a rapid rise in the popularity of alternatively-fuelled cars, with sales of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric cars rising 27% to nearly 107,000 as supply became more plentiful.

Mike Hawes, CEO of the SMMT, said: “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.

“We still need the right policies and incentives from government 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.”

Across the used car market, superminis remained the largest segment during 2018, with a 33% market share, although sales fell 3.7% to just over 2.6 million.
All other segments recorded falls over the period apart from SUVs and executive cars, which rose 9.3% and 2.3% respectively.

The Ford Fiesta was the top-selling used car, while the most popular colour was black, closely followed by silver and blue.

Top 10 models in 2018

ModelNo. transactions
1 - Ford Fiesta 360,868
2 - Ford Focus 322,532
3 - Vauxhall Corsa 313,702
4 - Volkswagen Golf 262,508
5 - Vauxhall Astra 262,201
6 - BMW 3 Series 194,164
7 - MINI 160,258
8 - Volkswagen Polo 155,468
9 - Renault Clio 137,180
10 - Audi A3 119,545

 UK used car transactions: Q4 2018 and % change on 2017

 Q4 2018Q4 2017% changeYear-to-date 2018Year-to-date 2017% change
Used cars 1,762,493 1,774,832 -0.7% 7,945,040 8,113,020 -2.1%