Used car market hit hard by pandemic

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9th February 2021

The UK’s used car market declined 14.9% in 2020, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

It found that 6,752,959 used car transactions took place, 1,182,146 fewer than in 2019, making 2020 the lowest performing year since 2012.

Despite used car transactions increasing 3.7% in October, a fourth consecutive month of growth, the combination of new lockdowns and tougher restrictions across the UK later in the year saw activity tail off, with declines of 18.3% and 4.2% in November and December respectively.

Alternatively fuelled vehicles (AFVs) bucked the trend, however, with 144,225 of these models sold during the year, an increase of 5.2%, with their market share rising to 2.1%. Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) saw their transactions increase by 29.7% to 19,184 units, but still only a fraction of all activity at 0.3%.

The market for hybrids also rose, by 4.7%, while demand for plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) fell by -five per cent. Used diesel and petrol car transactions also fell, by 15.5% and 15.2% respectively.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “These figures are yet more evidence of the significant damage coronavirus has caused the automotive sector. Market growth at the start of the year was welcome but quickly stifled by the first lockdown as showrooms closed across the country, a picture that was repeated with the subsequent lockdowns in November and, indeed, into 2021.

“The priority now must be to allow car showrooms to re-open as soon as restrictions are eased. This will not only help the used market recover, supporting jobs and livelihoods and providing individuals with the personal mobility they need at a time when guidance is against using public or shared transport, but it will also enable the latest and cleanest vehicles to filter through to second owners and keep society moving.”

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