British motorists bought two million second-hand cars in the first quarter of 2018

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%.

Top 10 best-selling cars in Britain

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.”

UK new car market suffers biggest decline in Europe

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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.

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Join the debate


17 May 2018

Come on Autocar, time to question some of the SMMT crap. The used cars being bought now were registered largely before the drop in the sales of new diesels, so of course there are more second hand diesels out there. Add to this that most used dealers cant get enough petrols to satify demand, they have lowered the price of used diesels to shift them. The new market has shifted, but the used market cant, its stuck with the cars people already bought.


17 May 2018

Sales of secondhand diesel went up 2%, this means next to nothing as this minor increase is probably due to secondhand diesel cars prices being lowered, no dealer wants cars sitting on the forecourt for > 3 months. Everthing has a price and 2% is too smaller % to make any firm judgements.

In years to come when fewer diesel cars coming onto the secondhand market their comparative value might actaully go up due to supply and demand. 

typos1 - Just can’t respect opinion

17 May 2018

Do any of these used diesels benefit from the old tax regime in which they were free - or very cheap (£20) to tax?

17 May 2018
And how much are people paying for them? I sense a dealer fire sale incase new laws mark them hard to shift.

Also it may be new diesel models being dumped on the used market.

17 May 2018
A neighbour of mine is a Dealer Principal for a small group that sells mainly Vauxhall's but also Ssanyong and a couple of other minor marques. His sales of new diesels has plummeted, some models in particular, such as the Astra to private sales are down to one or two a month, petrols are up massively. The used market is the opposite, he can't get enough 3-5 year old clean (low mile, good con) diesels to keep up with the demand.

17 May 2018
Autocar never questions the SMMT, which always has an incredibly obvious agenda - in this case to help it's members sell more diesels.

What is sold used now HAS to reflect what was sold new previously.

So course there were more used diesels sold. Most of the cars being traded in to be sold as used will be diesels registered before the cat got out of the bag.

17 May 2018

Facts show that modern car business is greatly affected by How Registrations are performed. Due to all this unnecessary Diesel is bad/Diesel is dead, recent registrations for diesel cars have fallen, because:business wants to reserve market for "already registred news diesel cars" that will return to second hand market when leases expire & fload auction floors and create a "vacuum space" for Euro6c-temp & newer diesel cars, that when all these current & soon arriving to auction lots diesel cars reach 5 to 6 years old time, diesel cars will be so fewer than usual that, anything diesel between 2 to 4 year old will value gold...

This is just the market manipulation, some as all these trolls aluding the petrol-hybrid (without a plug!) as saviours of the world. Next is trolls aluding Hydrogen cars as being captivating.


17 May 2018

....road show continues.

The market doesnt need stability to ensure a good supply of latest model used cars in the usual the Manufacturers will ensure a good supply with the usual mass of pre-reg for resale.

18 May 2018

I don't get the responses on here. "Of course used diesel sales have gone up because blah blah blah"

What part of used sales have GONE UP don't you understand? Sales may not have decreased for the reasons stated, but worst scenario they would have remained stable. But they have INCREASED !!!

Why should this be? Well to suggest taking advantage of the cheaper tax is correct. And to suggest a slump in used diesel prices is also correct. But none of that distracts from the fact that sales of used diesel cars have increased !!!

Why berate SMMT and Autocar for simply stating a fact? Or is it simply a case of diesel haters can't handle the truth. 

19 May 2018

The bad publicity surrounding diesels is ill informed and outdated. Modern diesels are very much better for the environment than their petrol equivalent. They produce far less CO2 and use much less fuel meaning that not so much fossil fuel is used on any journey. Further more diesle tend to be more robust and longer lasting than petrol resulting in fewer needing to be scrapped and recycled. In my experience they have also proved to be far more reliable. The latest EU 6 compliant diesle are far better for the environment than a new petrol engine.Until electric cars have a realistic range of over 500 miles the diesel id the best option for the motorist and the planet. Bunny, and tree huggers need to get up to date with their predjudices as do the ignorant politicians whi have villified the diesel engine




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