Demand in the UK for used plug-in electric cars surges in the third quarter despite the overall market falling

According to the latest figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) demand for used battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) in the UK have continued to grow during the third quarter of 2021.

Reflecting recent trends in both the new and used car markets, transactions rose by 56.4 percent for electric cars and 43.3 percent for plug-in hybrids to 14,182 units and 14,990 respectively. Hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) transactions also increased by 20.3 percent to 40,157.

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The number of used battery electric vehicles that changed hands during the period was the highest recorded in any quarter. Thanks to an ever-growing choice of new zero emission models coming on sale, for both new and used car buyers, the market share for all used plug-in vehicles increased to 1.4 percent, which is up from 0.9 percent the previous year.

While petrol and diesel powertrains continued to dominate, demand for both declined by 6.9 percent and 7.6 percent respectively. This strong plug-in performance comes despite the UK’s used car market falling 6.2 percent in the third quarter of 2021.

During this third quarter, 2,034,342 vehicles changed hands, which was 134,257 less than the same period in 2020. This is largely down to the re-opening of showrooms and easing of lockdown measures which saw the market bounce back strongly.

The strong used plug-in car market reflects that of new sales in the UK. More people are switching on to electric vehicles, especially zero-emissions electric cars, and this trend has been steadily increasing over the last two years. This is not limited to the UK, with global sales also hitting record levels.

This was also highlighted by the recent forecourt fuel shortages during this period in Britain. This saw more people switching or looking to transition to electric cars.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “Despite the used car market declining in the third quarter, record sales earlier in the year, particularly in the second quarter, means the market remains up year to date.

Given the circumstances, with the global pandemic causing a shortage of semiconductors needed to produce new vehicles, undermining the new car market, used transactions were always going to suffer too.

“This is particularly worrying as fleet renewal, of both new and used, is essential if we are to address air quality and carbon emissions concerns.”

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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