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UK used car market down slightly in Q1 but AFV demand rises

The UK’s used car market saw a slight downturn in Q1 2019 but demand for alternatively fuelled vehicles showed significant growth.

Q1 saw a 30.7% growth in demand for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric cars as 32,272 changed hands

The latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show just over two million sales took place in the first three months of the year; down 0.6% on the same period in 2018 but showing the overall strength of the used car market compared to the 2.4% decline seen in Q1 new car registrations, which fell to 701,036 units.

Used buyer demand for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric cars continued to grow, up 30.7% and accounting for 32,272 sales. Within this, hybrids experienced the largest growth – up 34.2%, with pure electric rising 4.8% to 3,067 units.

However, AFVs still took just 1.6% of all transactions in Q1, with conventional petrol and diesel making up 98.3% of the market; among this, used petrol sales were up 1.1% and while diesels were down 3.6% on Q1 2018.

Superminis by far most popular used buy, taking a third of the used market share, followed by lower medium models.

Commenting on the figures, James Fairclough, CEO at AA Cars, said: “Traditionally secondhand dealers have to work harder to tempt buyers to forecourts in the New Year, so a slight downturn in used car sales in Q1 shouldn’t come as a big surprise.

“The market continues to be supported by the ongoing success story of secondhand alternatively-fuelled vehicles, which experienced a 30.7% growth in demand in Q1, as well as the quality and availability of used stock of all fuel types.

“Our own figures support this upward swing in used AFV sales, as searches for hybrid vehicles on the AA Cars site have jumped by 12% since January 2019.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.