Used car sales in Britain slowed over the last three months, reports the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), reflecting the big slowdown in the new car market. 13.5 percent fewer used cars were sold in April, May and June – that’s almost 285,000 fewer secondhand car transactions.
Analysts say the slowdown reflects a lack of consumer confidence in the marketplace, and Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, admitted it came as no surprise.
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The cause? Overall market turbulence set off by the introduction of April’s controversial VED rate changes on new cars – which has had an inevitable knock-on effect on the used car market as well. Add in general consumer uncertainty and it’s no wonder used car sales fell so significantly: they’re now down 5.1 percent overall in 2017.
“Although the market remains at an exceptionally high level, given the softening we’ve seen in registrations of new cars in more recent months,” said Hawes, “looking ahead it is vital that government secures the conditions that will maintain consumer and business confidence if we are to see both markets prosper.”
It’s not all bad news, though. “With demand easing over recent months, this could offer motorists the opportunity to get some great deals.”
Best-selling used cars 2017
SUVs are where it’s at with the new car market… and they, along with city cars, were the only type of model whose used car transactions went up in the last quarter. Diesel, too, is holding up: sales fell just 0.1 percent, compared to a surprise 8.9 percent fall in petrol car sales.
1.62 million secondhand diesel cars have been sold in 2017, compared to 2.29 million petrol cars. As for alternative fuel vehicles such as hybrids and EVs, sales rose 24.2 percent overall, with electric cars up 79.3 percent – but they still only account for 1.2 percent of the secondhand market overall.
Although the used car market has slowed overall, Britain’s love for the supermini shows no signs of declining, either. Of the almost 4 million used cars sold thus far in 2017, almost a third of them were superminis – and Britain’s favourite new supermini, the Ford Fiesta, is also its top secondhand car overall.
The rest of the top 10 best-selling used cars throws up a few surprises though, with Brits’ love of premium cars elbowing some former secondhand favourites down the rankings. As proven by the car in 10th place…
10: Audi A3
Over 56,000 secondhand Audi A3s have been sold so far in 2017. Audi’s premium compact car is thus more popular than once-perennial top 10 used cars such as the Peugeot 208 and Ford Mondeo. But it’s still some way behind…
… The British-built Mini. We Brits love the reborn classic, with sales of over 71,500 secondhand Minis so far in 2017 taking it…
8: Volkswagen Polo
… Within spitting distance of the Volkswagen Polo, on 72,500. How long before the Polo is overtaken by the Mini?
7: Renault Clio
The Renault Clio remains a more popular secondhand supermini than the Volkswagen Polo, with around 76,000 being sold so far in 2017.
6: BMW 3 Series
Another premium brand in the top 10, over 98,000 used BMW 3 Series have been sold so far in 2017. It’s an enormously in-demand model, although it still has a little way to go before it breaks into the top five.
5: Volkswagen Golf
More than 122,000 used Volkswagen Golfs have been sold in the UK so far in 2017. How many of these have TDI engines, the figures don’t disclose…
4: Vauxhall Astra
The Vauxhall Astra is a more popular used car than the Volkswagen Golf: this will please Vauxhall, as the tables are reversed on the new car market.
3: Vauxhall Corsa
Vauxhall follows it up with the Corsa sitting third in the used car popularity stakes. Indeed, the little Vauxhall is far closer here to its arch-rival from Ford than it is in the new car tables – although this does perhaps suggest the Corsa can only fall down the secondhand car popularity stakes from here…
2: Ford Focus
In July, the Ford Focus was Britain’s most popular new car. It can’t quite manage to repeat this in the used car stakes, but sales of almost 170,000 thus far in 2017 mean it’s still finding plenty of fans. And it’s a family sibling that of course sits ahead of it in top spot…
1: Ford Fiesta
Yes, the Fiesta is Britain’s most popular used car, with 185,062 finding new homes thus far in 2017. Given the continued strength of its new car sales over the years, we can’t see this changing any time soon.
Best-selling used car colours 2017
As for top secondhand colours, as we’ll see, there’s a battle at the top of the charts between black and silver, with what was once Britain’s favourite used car colour, blue, relegated to third place. Silver has topped the charts for the past seven years, but is it holding onto this in 2017? Click on to find out…
Yellow is a bold choice of colour but it seems Brits aren’t in the mood for being bold right now: used car transactions of yellow cars are dropping, with fewer than 24,000 sold thus far in 2017.
In contrast, sales of brown cars have remained consistent this year: they have pulled ahead of yellow in the popularity stakes and are just behind another retro hue making a comeback…
Yes, beige is the seventh most popular used car colour in Britain right now. Fashions really do always come around.
Green is next up, selling four times as strongly as beige on the secondhand market. But the next-best colour is four times more popular again…
Red was once a hit colour of the 1980s and, while its popularity has faded (rather like a once-red car that’s turned pink in the sun), it’s still found more than 418,000 secondhand buyers thus far in 2017.
White didn’t used to feature all that highly on the used car colour popularity chart, but the recent resurgence in white new car sales is now powering it up the rankings on the secondhand market. It’s closing in on another popular colour…
Almost half a million grey cars have been sold so far in 2017. White is catching it up but, for now, this sensible-shoes hue remains the fourth most popular used car colour in Britain.
Blue cars come in all shades, from doom blue to Hawaii blue. There are currently some beautiful blue colours on the market, which are finding favour with new car buyers, so we expect its rise up the used popularity rankings – and the clear advantage it has over grey – to only increase further.
Brits have loved silver cars more than any other for years. But not any more. While still far more popular than blue, around 14,000 fewer silver cars have been sold so far this year than the colour at the top of the charts. Which is…
The biggest shock in the used car market has been the usurping of silver from the ranks of Britain’s favourite used car colour. Black is the new black, it seems: surely not reflecting the mood of the industry in general?