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UK’s Used Car Market Enjoys Robust Growth in Early 2024

Picture of By Rob Harvey
By Rob Harvey

Marketing Manager - Bridge Classic Cars

The UK’s used car market has kicked off 2024 with an impressive first quarter, experiencing a 6.5% increase in sales. 1,967,923 used cars were purchased, marking the strongest start to a year since the pre-pandemic heights of 2019. This update comes from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), indicating a positive trend that’s been building for 16 consecutive months.

This growth can largely be attributed to the recovery of the new car market, which has enhanced the variety and availability of second-hand vehicles. Despite this uptick, the total sales for this quarter are still 2.6% below the levels seen before the pandemic.

One of the standout trends in the market has been the significant increase in sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs). With a record 71% jump in purchases, 41,505 BEVs were sold, now accounting for 2.1% of the market. This surge is due to the growing appeal of electric vehicles, which offer both cost savings and environmental benefits. Hybrids and plug-in hybrids are also seeing a rise in popularity, with sales increases of 49.3% and 42.5% respectively.

Despite the growth in electric and hybrid vehicles, petrol engines remain the most popular choice, with sales up by 7.7%. However, diesel vehicles have seen a slight decline of 1.3%. Together, traditional powertrains represented 92.9% of all used car sales this quarter.

In terms of vehicle types, superminis were once again the top sellers, with a 7.2% increase in transactions, followed by lower medium vehicles, which saw the largest volume growth. Dual-purpose vehicles also performed well, maintaining their market share and showing a robust growth of 10.3%.

As for colour preferences, black continues to dominate the market, representing 21.3% of all used car sales. Grey and blue follow closely behind, with grey showing the most significant growth among the top ten colours.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “A reinvigorated new car market is delivering more choice and affordability for used car buyers and, increasingly, they are choosing to go electric. To enable even more drivers to enjoy the benefits of zero-emission motoring, ensuring both supply and demand remains robust is essential. Incentivising new EV uptake and investing in a chargepoint network that is accessible, available and affordable to all will drive the nation’s net zero transition.”

All used car data published by SMMT is correct based on information available at the time of publication. SMMT used car data is derived from information supplied by DVLA, which periodically revises historic data, which can therefore result in variations on data previously reported.

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