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Used car market bounces back in Q3

Used car transactions grew 4.4% in Q3, helped by pent-up demand after showrooms re-opened.

Mike Jones, chairman of automotive business specialist ASE Global, will look at the state of the new and used car and van markets at the VRA AGM

Pent-up demand caused by the first national lockdown has helped drive demand in Q3

Growth was recorded in every month of Q3, with September seeing the latest rise, up 6.3%. The figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) also show a total of 2,168,599 used cars changed hands during the quarter.

Rising demand was seen across all fuel types. The largest percentage rise was seen in sales of plug-in hybrids, which increased by 35.7%, but take-up of pre-owned battery electric vehicles (BEVs) was close behind, rising 34.4% in Q3 and 4.4% for the year to date.

Although petrol and diesel cars saw smaller increases in sales of 4.5% and 2.6% respectively for Q3, they still accounted for the lion’s share of all used transactions in Q3, standing at 97.42%.

Superminis remained the most popular segment with 698,587 purchases, accounting for 32.0% of transactions, followed by lower medium models, with 27.0% of the total market share. And black held its position as the number one colour among used car buyers, ahead of silver/aluminium and blue.

Less positive was the YtD picture for total used car transactions, down 17.5%, with some one million fewer transactions than the first nine months of 2020.

The SMMT also warned that with England entering a new lockdown and the introduction of tougher restrictions and ‘firebreaks’ across the devolved nations, sales in the fourth quarter are expected to be heavily affected.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “It is encouraging to see used car sales returned to growth but, as the pandemic continues and outlets in many areas are being made to close again, the short-term outlook is less positive. Given these premises are often proven to be Covid-secure, we need them to re-open quickly to protect vital jobs and ensure no further delay to the fleet renewal necessary to deliver environmental improvements.”

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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.

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