The UK used car market was down by more than 12 percent in the third quarter of 2022, according to the latest figures. Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed used car transactions were down between the beginning of July and the end of September 2022.

In total, the SMMT’s figures showed almost 1.8 million used cars changed hands during the third quarter of the year, but that was down 12.2 percent compared with the same period last year. It’s the first time sales have fallen in the third quarter since 2015, and the SMMT has blamed the slump on the semiconductor shortage that’s blighting the new car market, thus limiting supply for the new car sector.

As a result, sales are now down for the year, with 5.3 million used car transactions during the first nine months of the year. That’s down by almost 10 percent compared with the same nine months of 2021.

Used car market stronger than ever as August sales beat previous records

However, the SMMT says the battery electric vehicle (BEV) market “bucked the trend”, with the used market mirroring the new car market as interest in electric cars increases. With almost 17,000 used electric car transactions registered during the third quarter of the year, activity was up by 44.1 percent compared with the same period last year.

Similarly, the market for hybrid electric cars also grew, rising by 2.5 percent in the quarter as 41,479 used cars found new owners. Plug-in hybrid transactions, meanwhile, fell 5.8 percent in the third quarter, but they remain up by 7.1 percent during the first three-quarters of the year.

Renault ZOE in the UK

But while electric and hybrid cars are evidently popular, it seems small cars remain the most desirable models on sale. Superminis – cars such as the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Corsa – make up almost a third (32.2 percent) of the market, while black continues to be the most popular colour, accounting for more than a fifth (21.4 percent) of all transactions.

“Given the short supply of new cars due largely to sustained chip shortages, a declining used car market comes as little surprise, although it’s great to see a growing number of used buyers able to get into an electric car,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

“The demand is clearly there and to feed it we need a buoyant new car market, which means giving buyers confidence to invest. Next week’s Autumn Statement is an opportunity for the government to make a long-term fiscal commitment to zero emission motoring, including adequate public charging infrastructure, which, especially given the economic headwinds, would go a long way to stimulating the market and delivering both economic and net zero progress.”