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UK’s used car market reaches record level in first half of year

Record numbers of used cars were sold in the first half of this year, new figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show.

Car auction

More than 4 million used cars changed hands in H1 2016, the highest number on record

In total, 4,181,042 used car transactions were made between January and June – up 7.9% on the first half of 2015 and marking the first time the market has surpassed four million units in the first half of the year.

The highest share of sales was seen in the South East of England (14%), followed by the North West (10.2%) and the West Midlands (9.8%). Meanwhile, London was Britain’s used car capital, followed by Birmingham and Leeds.

April was the most popular time to buy a used car, when used car stock is particularly strong following March’s plate change, with more than three quarters of a million (760,308) vehicles purchased in this month.

The most sought after age for a used car was between one-and three years old.

In line with new car registrations, superminis were the most sought after body type, representing one in three transactions (33.9%), with small family cars in second place, accounting for more than a quarter (27.2%).

Silver was the most popular colour, with almost half a million cars changing hands so far this year, followed by black, chosen by one in 10 used buyers, blue and grey.

Bolder colours were in also in demand, with yellow and gold, which had fallen in popularity in the new market, now featuring once again  in the used car  top 10.

The Ford Fiesta was the UK’s favourite used car, with nearly 60,000 sold so far this year. This was true of buyers in Cardiff, while Edinburgh’s best-selling used car was the Vauxhall Corsa, Londoners preferred the Ford Focus and car buyers in Belfast were more likely to opt for the Volkswagen Golf.

Mike Hawes, chief executive, SMMT, said: “The UK’s used car market is at its strongest ever, and that’s great news for buyers spoilt for choice with the latest advanced vehicle technology and attractive financing options. The growth in the used car market has reflected the record demand for new cars in recent years, but future growth in high cost purchases will depend on stable consumer and business confidence.”

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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.