UK used car market down in 2022 but electric vehicles (EVs) buck the trend

According to the latest figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the UK’s used car market declined in 2022, down by 8.5% to 6,890,777 transactions. Meanwhile, used battery electric vehicle (BEV) transactions bucked the overall trend, recording their best-ever annual performance 

The performance saw 640,179 fewer vehicles changing hands than in 2021, and remains down 13.2% off 2019’s pre-pandemic total, as the squeeze on new car supply, primarily due to the global shortage of semiconductors, restricted stock entering the second-hand market.

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Used battery electric vehicle (BEV) transactions were far better during 2022 recording their best-ever annual performance. A record 71,071 units found new owners in 2022. This is a rise of 37.5% and boosted their overall market share to 1.0%, from 0.7% in 2021. 

Robust demand for other alternatively fuelled vehicles continued, too, with sales of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) rising by 8.6% and plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEVs) transactions were up 3.6%.

Combined, however, electrified vehicles represented 4.1% of the market. This is up from 3.3% in 2021. While used diesel and petrol cars fell by  11.8% and 7.7% respectively, they remained the dominant powertrains with a combined 6,594,880 units changing hands.

It’s not just used electric vehicle sales in the UK which have been strong, with registrations of new EVs in January 2023 accounting for 13.1% of the overall market. This was an increase of 19.8% over EV sales for the same month in 2022. This shows that the demand is increasing for new and used EVs as more people transition to zero emissions motoring. 

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “While the market headlines are negative, and reflective of the squeeze on new car supply last year, record electrified vehicle uptake is a bright spot and demonstrates a growing appetite for these models. 

“With new car registrations growth expected this year, more of the latest low and zero emission models should become available to second owners. Accelerating uptake is key and will be dependent on drivers being assured of a positive ownership experience. 

“This means ensuring charging infrastructure keeps pace with demand as more new and used car buyers make the switch to zero emission motoring than ever before.”

Ian Osborne
Ian Osborne
Editor-in-Chief at ElectricDrives

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