Apparently we should be concerned that the used car market is down by just 167K cars or transactions. The thing is the used car market is still busy, vibrant and far larger than the new one, meaning that there is an immense amount of choice. There is a lot of nonsense from the industry press release about popular colours and models, but none of that really matters, especially to the Bangernomics buyer.

Britain’s used car market finished the year slightly down on the previous 12 months, dropping -2.1% to 7,945,040 transactions in 2018, according to figures released today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The 2018 performance was 167,980 sales lower than in 2017, a decline not as severe as the new car market and still the third highest year on records going back to 2001.

Growth in the market came through sales of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric cars, which rose 27% in the year to 106,658. Conventional petrol and diesel models countered recent trends seen in the new car market, with petrol showing a full-year decline in sales of -4.2% and diesel holding steady with a 0.3% increase.

While superminis remained the largest segment grouping in 2018 with a 33% market share, sales were down -3.7% to 2,618,544. Growth in sales of larger vehicles supported the used market in the year, with dual purpose and executive cars up 9.3% and 2.3% respectively. All other segments recorded falls over the period.

Black cars remained a favourite among used buyers, with more than 1.6 million of them changing hands during the year. Silver and blue were the next most popular colours, maintaining a 59% market share between the top three. Current new-car favourite grey could only manage fourth place in the used car market, which will surely change over the next few years as supply filters through to buyers. Orange showed the strongest growth of all colours during the year, up 9.7%, as 46,416 buyers opted for the bright hue. Meanwhile, green cars fell in favour, with sales dropping -16.6% to 202,561.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “It’s encouraging to see more used car buyers snapping up low-emission vehicles as supply grows – but those sales remain low as an overall proportion of the market. We still need the right policies and incentives from government to give new car buyers confidence to choose the cleanest petrol, diesel and electric models that best suit their needs, so that even more drivers can benefit from this exciting technology as it filters down to the used market in the coming years.”

James Fairclough, CEO at AA Cars said

“The used car market slowed down slightly in the run up to Christmas with sales falling by 0.7% on the previous year.

“Considering the wider economic picture and ongoing consumer uncertainty, the market looks in remarkably fine fettle.

“Additionally, alternatively-fuelled vehicles continued to defy the overall downward trend and saw another uplift.

“Even though electric and hybrid cars still don’t make up a large proportion of the secondhand market, their ever-increasing uptake is a testament to the quality of stock available on used forecourts.

“While the government has started to withdraw its more attractive incentives for AFVs, the secondhand market is still benefiting from the knock-on effect of these grants from years past and continues to benefit from the arrival of nearly-new stock.

“The next few months will be interesting for the car market as a whole, but as always, the dealers who are responsive in their ability to source stock and provide adapted solutions online and on the forecourts will continue to grow in the year ahead.”

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