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Used buyers migrating to ULEVs and EVs

Demand for hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles in the used vehicle sector continues to rise, latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show.

Used cars

Used car transactions were down 2.1% in Q3 but demand for ULEVs rose

During the third quarter of 2018, there were just under 30,000 transactions among hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles – up 28.6% over the same period in 2017 and accounting for some 1.5% of used car sales. Among this, sales of pure electric cars were up 8.3%.

In contrast, overall sales of used petrol and diesel vehicles dropped by 2.3% and 2.6% respectively but still accounted for more than 98% of all used car transactions in Q3.

The figures follow last week’s publication of latest new car data showing registrations of alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) were up 30.7% in October, with registrations of pure electric vehicles increasing 86.9% while hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles grew 31.0% and 19.1% respectively. This has led many fleet experts to deride the Government’s recent and “baffling” cuts in Plug-in Car Grant funding.

Commenting on the latest figures, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said the right policies and incentives from government are needed to encourage new car buyers to take up the latest, cleanest petrol, diesel and electric models that best suit their driving needs.

He added: “This would be the best way for these advanced technologies to filter through to the used market, helping to accelerate fleet renewal to improve air quality and meet climate change goals.”

Overall, there were 2,057,457 used transactions in Q3 – down 2.1% on the same period in 2017 – with August the quarter’s best-selling month.

In response, Seán Kemple, director of sales, Close Brothers Motor Finance, said: “It’s been a complex few months for the motor industry, and today’s disappointing figures suggest that consumer uncertainty has overshadowed all else. Brexit is one major part of this, as well as confusion around which model to go for thanks to WLTP.”

Kemple added that WLTP had actually had a beneficial impact on the used market with buyers unable to get hold of the new cars they want and facing long waiting lists. He continued: “We’re seeing this play out in the auction houses, with demand and wholesale prices steadily climbing.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 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.