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SMMT – Used car buyers double up on electric vehicles as market grows 5.1%

The UK’s used car market increased 5.1% in the first quarter of 2022, according to the latest figures released on Tuesday 10th May by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).


SMMT - Used car buyers double up on electric vehicles as market grows 5.1% p

Some 1,774,351 transactions took place, with 86,596 additional cars changing hands compared with the same period in 2021, when car showrooms nationwide were closed due to pandemic-related lockdowns with only click and collect transactions allowed.1

Despite the global shortage of semiconductors stifling supply in the new car market, used car sales in the quarter were driven by a buoyant market in January and February, with rises of 17.7% and 7.4% respectively. March, on the other hand, saw a decline of -6.8%, following a stronger performing month in 2021 as the pandemic-affected market began to recover. Despite growth over the course of the quarter, used car transactions remain -12.2% below the pre-pandemic year of 2019.2

It was a record first quarter for used battery electric vehicles (BEVs), with buyers keen to purchase pre-owned zero-emission cars. Transactions for BEVs more than doubled from 6,625 to 14,586, a rise of 120.2%. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) and hybrids (HEVs) also changed hands in greater numbers than the year before rising by 35.3% to 14,433, and 28.8% to 35,007 units respectively.

Despite the growth, however, petrol and diesel powertrains continued to dominate the used market representing 96.2% of used sales, or some 1,707,135 units. Plug-in vehicles comprised 3.6% of the total market share – up from 1.6% in Q1 2021, but illustrating that the growth in new EVs over the past two years has yet to have a significant impact on the overall market.

Mini, dual-purpose and supermini segments saw the largest growth, up 13.5%, 12.3% and 9.1% respectively. MPV transactions, meanwhile, declined by -7.5%, followed by luxury saloons (-3.4%) and upper mediums (-3.0%). Superminis (32.6%) remained the most popular used buy, followed by lower medium (26.6%) and dual-purpose (14.0%), with these three segments accounting for more than seven in 10 (73.2%) of all cars finding new owners.

Black was the most popular colour choice, with one in five cars changing hands painted in the colour, some 383,418 units, followed by blue and silver/aluminium. At the other end of the spectrum, just 1,184 pink cars filtered through to second owners.3

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said:

“With the new car market hampered by ongoing global supply shortages, growth in the used car market is welcome if unsurprising especially given we were in lockdown last year. Electric car sales are energising the market, with zero-emission vehicles starting to filter through in larger numbers to consumers looking forward to driving the latest and greenest vehicles. Although there is some way to go before we see the recent growth in new EVs replicated in the used market, a buoyant new car market will be vital to help drive fleet renewal which is essential to the delivery of carbon savings.”

SMMT - Used car buyers double up on electric vehicles as market grows 5.1% p four SMMT - Used car buyers double up on electric vehicles as market grows 5.1% p two

SMMT - Used car buyers double up on electric vehicles as market grows 5.1% p four

1Q1 2021: 1,687,755
2Q1 2019: 2,020,144



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Adam Hewitt

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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.