Used car transactions grew by 108% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2021, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
More than 2.1 million used vehicles changed hands in Q2, up 6.6% on 2019’s pre-pandemic performance.
The SMMT says it’s “almost the best quarter ever” for the used car market and the increase tracks the country’s gradual emergence from lockdown.
Compared to the near standstill of the economy last year, the used car market saw the biggest growth in April, up 307.4% on 2020 with 724,743 transactions in the month, and up 5.0% on pre-pandemic 2019.
All months in Q2 saw significant growth, with May and June up 9.9% and 4.6% on 2019 respectively, the best performance for both months on record.
Year to date, the rebound in Q2 has pushed the used car market up 33.3% to 3,855,259 units over the first half of the year. However, this remains -4.9% or almost 200,000 units off the 2019 market.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “More motorists are turning to used cars as supply shortages continue to affect the new car market, and the increased need for personal mobility with people remaining wary of public transport as they return to work.
“A buoyant used car market is necessary to maintain strong residual values which, in turn, supports new car transactions. We now need to see a similar rebound in new car sales to accelerate the fleet renewal necessary to deliver immediate and continuous improvements in air quality and carbon emissions.”
Demand for used battery electric (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) vehicles continued to grow in Q2, with the market share for plug-in vehicles increasing to 1.3% of the used car market in the quarter. Both BEV and PHEV transactions more than tripled in Q2 (353.9% and 349.8% respectively) to 10,903 and 16,202.
At 1.3% of market share, the SMMT says the plug-in used car market is not yet seeing the acceleration of uptake as has been seen in the new car market with the number of used plug-ins changing hands in Q2 2021 comparable with the number of new plug-ins bought in Q3 2015.
Petrol and diesel powertrains, meanwhile, made up 96.4% of the quarter’s used car market at 2,090,396 units. In addition, increased demand overall has led to an increase in sales of older used cars with only 12.7% of all vehicles sold being three years or under, the lowest on record.
The news of increased used vehicles sales follows reports that used car prices have risen for five consecutive months. Cap HPI's Live trade values reported a a jump of 16.6% in the last four months alone.