Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Demand for low-emission used cars up 30 percent – but most Brits still prefer petrol or diesel

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVMore than two million used cars changed hands in Q3 2018, new data from the Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders (SMMT) has revealed.

This was, it adds, a slight 2.1 percent dip on 2017 – but demand for ultra-low and zero-emission cars has rocketed, rising 28.6 percent over the busy summer months.

Almost 30,000 ultra-clean used cars were sold, mainly hybrids and plug-in hybrids. The UK’s burgeoning electric car market is also starting to develop in the second-hand sector, with used EV sales rising 8.3 percent.

It is, however, still a drop in the ocean of used car sales, acknowledges the SMMT. Petrol and diesel cars still make up more than 98 percent of second-hand car transactions. What’s more, unlike the new car market, used diesel sales don’t seem to be suffering compared to petrol – both dipped by a similar 2.5 percent.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “It is encouraging that the UK used car market has remained solid in the third quarter of the year, and good news that there is growing enthusiasm for alternatively powered vehicles.”

And the best way to filter these through to the used market is, added Hawes, to introduce the right policies and incentives for new cars. Rather than, for example, cancelling the Plug-in Car Grant for plug-in hybrids…

Other used car trends during summer 2018 included a 6.2 percent rise in SUV sales and a surprising 2.4 percent increase in executive car volumes. Superminis were still Britain’s top used car sector, but they declined 3.1 percent – although the total of second-hand supermini sales so far this year has still now topped the two million mark.

Our favourite used car colour this summer? Black, followed by silver, and blue. We’re quickly going off green cars though, as sales dropped 17.1 percent. 22 years ago, it was actually the most popular new car colour in Britain…

Despite the summer used car sales dip, Auto Trader director Ian Plummer expects the rest of 2018 to be more promising. “The narrow pipeline of WLTP compliant vehicles provides a great chance to capitalise on impatient car buyers open to nearly new alternatives,” he said.

“Indeed, we’ve seen an increase in nearly new ad views over the last two months.” 

Best-selling used cars – Q3 2018

2011 used Ford Fiesta

  1. Ford Fiesta (93,260 cars)
  2. Ford Focus (84,014)
  3. Vauxhall Corsa (80,789)
  4. Volkswagen Golf (68,614)
  5. Vauxhall Astra (66,942)
  6. BMW 3 Series (49,025)
  7. Mini (42,309)
  8. Volkswagen Polo (41,726)
  9. Renault Clio (35,141)
  10. Audi A3 (31,766)