The UK used car market was down by more than eight percent during the first half of 2022, according to figures released this week. Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows around 3.5 million used cars changed hands during the first six months of the year.

That figure represents an 8.3-percent reduction compared with the same period in 2021, when more than 3.85 million used car transactions took place. And that comes despite the market growing by more than five percent during the first three months of 2022.

Of course, the results for the first quarter of the year were slightly skewed by the issues faced in the early months of 2021. Back then, showrooms were closed and buyers limited to click-and-collect purchases. As a result, sales were up by 5.1 percent in the first quarter of 2022, but remained down 12.2 percent below the levels seen in pre-pandemic 2019.

Used car sales process

Similarly, the results for the second quarter of 2022, which saw sales slump by almost a fifth (18.8 percent) compared with the same period in 2021, were skewed by the pent-up demand seen after the 2021 lockdown. Nevertheless, sales were 13.5 percent lower than in the second quarter of 2019.

Overall, during the first six months of 2022, the used car market was down 8.3 percent compared with the first half of 2021. And it was down by 12.8 percent compared with pre-pandemic 2019.

Used car sale keys handed over

According to the SMMT, the market has been impacted by the global chip shortage, which has impacted new car market supply and had an “inevitable knock-on effect” on used transactions. However, the SMMT says battery-electric used car sales have increased massively, up 57.1 percent in the second quarter of 2022. Nevertheless, electric vehicles still have a used market share of less than one percent.

“It was inevitable that the squeeze on new car supply would filter through to the used market,” said the SMMT’s chief executive, Mike Hawes. “Despite this, Britain’s used car buyers clearly have a growing appetite for the latest low and zero emission cars, and we need a thriving new car market to feed it. The next Prime Minister must create the conditions to drive consumer confidence, especially in EVs, to drive the fleet renewal necessary to meet our decarbonisation goals.”