The number of used diesel cars bought in Britain went up by 2% in the first quarter of 2018, in contrast to the 10.5% fall in demand for new oil-burning cars in the same period.
Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures show that a total of 2,031,661 used cars changed hands in the first three months of the year, representing a 4.8% decline on the same period in 2017. However, much of the fall can be attributed to used petrol cars, which saw a 9.7% decrease in demand.
Conversely, demand for second-hand alternatively fuelled vehicles grew 15.9% with 24,697 sales. Within this category, used electric cars saw a 33.8% increase to represent 2,927 units, while hybrids rose by 14.1%.
This helped push the market share for used alternatively fuelled vehicles up to 1.2%. Although petrol demand was down, it still accounted for 55.9% of the used market share, while diesel represented 42.8%.
SMMT boss Mike Hawes said: “Despite the overall decline in demand, the UK’s used car sector remains at a very high level and it’s great to see millions of consumers benefiting from some of the latest, safest and cleanest models now filtering into the market."
However, he warned that the current decline in the new car market could have a knock-on effect for used sales: "To maintain this choice and make the fastest possible improvements to air quality, we need stability in the new car market. That means giving consumers confidence to trade in their older cars for the best new, low-emission model to suit their needs — whatever the fuel type.”
The UK’s favourite new car, the Ford Fiesta, was also number one in the used car table for the first quarter. Sales of second-hand Fiestas totalled 92,569, beating the Ford Focus's 83,781 and the Vauxhall Corsa's 81,663.
British tastes for colour also changed in the first three months of the year, with black overtaking silver as the nation’s favourite used car colour. Blue, grey and white were the next favourites.
While superminis remained the best-selling used body type, dual-purpose vehicles (such as pick-ups) witnessed the fastest growth in the first quarter, with second-hand sales up by 12.8% to 206,500.