Fleet News

Used car sales fall, but value of market increases by £1bn

USED car sales fell by almost 300,000 units to 7.5 million last year - the first decline of any substance since the early 1990s, according to the 1999 British Car Auctions' report 'The Used Car Market'. However, the value of the used car market increased by £1 billion to £29.2 billion due to a continuing shift away from older, lower value private transactions to higher value, late year, low mileage cars sold by dealers.

In addition, said the report: 'The continued success of manufacturers' approved used car programmes and the richer mix of used vehicles emanating from the growing new car market is also integral to the value increase.' Confirmation of the decline in used car sales comes amid anxiety over the future well-being of the market after an unsettling 18 months. Key issues and concerns in the minds of used car dealers, says the report, include the recovery in used car volumes increase, recovery in used car values, the future of car supermarkets and the internet.

Sales of used cars up to two years old dropped through the one million mark to 990,000 last year; sales of three- to five-year-old vehicles fell by 170,000 units to 1.67 million; and sales of six- to eight-year-old cars declined sharply by 200,000 units to 1.46 million - reflecting lower new cars sales in the recession-hit early 1990s - to take a 10-year low of a 19% share of the sector. Industry experts said the slump in sales of used cars was due to a combination of the knock-on effect of poor new car sales in 1991 and 1992 when they dropped to 1.6 million units now reaching the six- to eight-year-old sector, where the largest decline in used car sales occurred.

The popularity of buying from dealers and the decline in private vehicle sales also comes as 18% of people said they would use the internet to buy their next vehicle, according to the report produced in association with Sewells International, part of Emap Automotive. Rising new car sales through the 1990s have contributed to the UK car parc reaching 26.3 million units last year (1997: 25.6 million). Simultaneously the car parc has got younger with 44.5% of cars being under six years old.

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