EVs spark a rise in used-car sales
By Simon Hacker | 9th August 2023
Given that around three out of four car transactions in the UK are not to buy brand-new wheels, the success story for electric car sales hinges hugely upon conquering the used-car market.
So today's news will cheer EV fans: despite recent negative headlines about stuttering new-model sales in the wake of supply issues and the UK's snail-paced speed of public charging installation, sales of used EVs are now markedly on the up - rising by more than 80% in the three months to June.
In total, more than 30,500 battery-powered cars changed hands in the period of April to June, which signalled an 81.8% rise on the same period last year, and which reflects the increasing total parc of EVs in the UK as more buyers move from their first electric wheels to updating and passing their used models on.
Ahead of the ban on combustion-engined cars in 2030, today's rise is positive, but still reveals the immensity of change that lies ahead, with just seven years remaining before new petrol and diesel cars can no longer be sold on UK forecourts. According to the figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), EV sales accounted for just 1.7% of the total second-hand market, and while the market share of used petrol and diesel vehicles fell as a result of the growth in electric car sales, they are still making up almost 95% of the 1.8m used vehicles sold in the quarter.
Punchline spoke to an independent Gloucestershire dealer who warned that taking on new-used EVs can be risky. In three months of handling a one-year-old model, he revealed that the sale price of the car had to be dropped by £3,000.
Industry data confirms that secondhand EV prices have been dropping over the last year. Valuers Cap hpi estimate an overall 35% fall in 12 months. Looking at used values from January to June this year, Cap found that all 20 of the biggest fallers were EVs, with models such as SEAT's MII taking a 40% hit and Nissan's popular Leaf and Vauxhall's Mokka E both shedding 32%.
On the positive side, the UK EV market registered more than 260,000 new electric sales last year, a figure that has risen from just 15,000 in 2018. Buyer anxiety over price, vehicle range and the dependability of the charging network are broadly seen as handbrake factors.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: "It's great to see a recharged new car sector supporting demand for used cars and, in particular, helping more people to get behind the wheel of an electric vehicle. Meeting the undoubted appetite for pre-owned EVs will depend on sustaining a buoyant new car market and on the provision of accessible, reliable charging infrastructure powered by affordable, green energy. This, in turn, will allow more people to drive zero at a price point suited to them, helping accelerate delivery of our environmental goals."
Looking at broader car-buying trends for the quarter, the SMMT said that superminis remain the best-selling used vehicle type, making up 31.5% of transactions and growing by 4.4% to 576,980 units. This was followed by lower medium models, accounting for 26.5% of the market, while dual-purpose cars rounded off the top three with a 15.1% share.
For colour choice, black retains its position as the most popular hue for the tenth quarter in a row, representing more than one in five (21.3%) transactions. It was followed by grey and blue in second and third places with respective 16.9% and 16.3% market shares.
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