Electric vehicles drive UK used car market growth

  • UK used car market grew 4.1% in Q2 2023, with 1.8 million cars sold.
  • Used electric car sales surged 81.8%, making up 1.7% of market share.
  • Ian Plummer, Commercial Director of Auto Trader, comments on the news.

The UK’s used car market had a huge boost, growing 4.1% in Q2 2023 

Around 1.8 million cars found new owners, says the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). According to the figures, electric vehicles (EVs) are leading the second-hand charge. 

The numbers show used electric car sales jumped a huge 81.8%. This means nearly 2% of all used cars sold are electric. That’s a new record, and one we can only expect to keep growing as the second-hand EV market matures. 

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Other green cars, like hybrids and plug-in hybrids, also gained popularity. Sales grew by 11.4% and 29.5% respectively. 

Of course, with the rise in electric comes a drop in ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles. Regular petrol and diesel cars reflect a small drop in market share, going from 95.7% to 94.3%.

Small cars, known as superminis, were hot picks, making up 31.5% of all sales. They grew 4.4%, totalling almost 577,000 cars.

Mike Hawes, the head of SMMT, says:

“It’s great to see a recharged new car sector supporting demand for used cars and, in particular, helping more people to get behind the wheel of an electric vehicle. Meeting the undoubted appetite for pre-owned EVs will depend on sustaining a buoyant new car market and on the provision of accessible, reliable charging infrastructure powered by affordable, green energy.”

The UK’s used car market is growing, and electric cars are leading the charge. The figures state that people are actively choosing to buy electric. We can only expect this trend to continue as we propel towards decarbonisation deadlines in 2030, and as second-hand EVs become more accessible, reliable and affordable.

The soaring interest is a direct result of a maturing second-hand EV market

Ian Plummer, Commercial Director of Auto Trader, commented based on his own experience of the second-hand car market directly from the largest and most revered second-hand trading site in the UK. He said: 

“The rapid growth in second-hand electric cars, also seen by record levels of demand on Auto Trader, is encouraging as more consumers identify pre-loved electric vehicles as a more affordable route into electric ownership. The influx of supply at the back end of last year has continued throughout H1 which meant a decline in used car prices, but a welcome boost in choice for consumers. We anticipate the used EV market stabilising now in terms of prices.”

“It’s positive to see healthy levels of growth in used car sales overall during what is a tough economic climate for most. Our research shows that cars aren’t discretionary purchases, so that appetite continues to fuel the market. The supply of used cars has been slow to return after the covid pandemic hit new car sales, but as it does return we’re seeing that available stock is selling well and quickly, in fact cars aged 5-10 years are selling in just 28 days.”

The appetite for EVs has clearly never been stronger. As the second-hand market flourishes, it seems apparent that the price of new EVs is a main factor halting adoption. This makes a welcome change from the infrastructural challenges we normally face, and highlights the growth of this young sector. 

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