Following a shortage of new models, the sales of second-hand cars have more than doubled within the last few months. In Q2 of 2021, the used car market grew by 108.6 per cent, year-on-year, and more than 2.2 million cars have changed hands, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
BBC News reports that sales were up by 6.6 per cent from the pre-pandemic levels in 2019, and while petrol cars made up the majority of sales, the demand for electric and hybrid vehicles is steadily increasing.
Increased demand has led to an increase in sales of older cars, and only 12.7 per cent of all vehicles sold were manufactured within the last three years, which is the lowest level on record.
According to the SMMT, the rise in sales tracks the UK’s easing of the lockdown and COVID-19 restrictions, with increased demand as businesses reopened.
Ford Fiestas, Vauxhall Corsas, Ford Focuses and Volkswagen Golfs were the most popular models, with black, silver, blue and grey being the most common colour choices.
One of the UK’s top ten used car dealerships, Marshall Motors, told the BBC that it recorded revenue and underlying profit in the first six months of 2021.
Chief executive Daksh Gupta said the company had “seen exceptional market tailwinds in the used car market" as a shortage of computer chips reduced the numbers of new cars on the market.
“Ultimately what that has done is push used car prices up significantly,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
He added that it would be difficult to say how long the high demand for used cars would last “because the whole situation links to new car supply.”
“The position is unclear and many manufacturers are having to deal with very complex production challenges,” he said. “We expect this disruption to go well into 2022.”
Chief executive of the SMMT, Mike Hawes said that many consumers had little choice but to turn to the second-hand market at a time of increased need for personal mobility, as many people try to avoid public transport as they return to work.
The shortage of new cars has been attributed to a lack of parts, as when the lockdowns caused production lines to grind to a halt, semiconductor manufacturers diverted microchips to the consumer electronics market, and the supply has not yet recovered.
Sales of second-hand electric and hybrid vehicles more than tripled in the second quarter, although electric vehicles only made up 1.3 per cent of second-hand car sales in Q2 of 2021.
The SMMT said that the used electric vehicle market has not yet seen the same uptake that has been experienced in the new car market.
“The scale of the challenge to transition the entire used car [fleet] away from traditional fuels remains significant,” the industry body said.
New car registrations fell by almost a third last month, marking the worst July sales since 1998.
Just 123,296 new cars were registered in the UK, a 29.5 per cent decline in July 2020.
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