The UK used car market shrank due to a lack of supply in 2022, according to a leading motor industry body. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has blamed the market’s 8.5-percent year-on-year slump on “supply chain restraints” passed on from the new car market.

According to the SMMT’s figures, around 6.9 million used car transactions took place in 2022, down by more than 640,000 compared with 2021. The organisation says the reduction is primarily down to the “squeeze on new car supply” caused by the global chip shortage, which “restricted new stock entering the second-hand market”.

Despite the poor overall performance, the figures revealed a small crumb of comfort as transactions increased by 0.8 percent in December – the first monthly rise since February. And although the fourth quarter of the year saw transactions down by 4.3 percent compared with the same period in 2021, the decline was less pronounced than in the second and third quarters of the year. The SMMT says the improvement is the result of “renewed growth” in the new car market, which has seen more vehicles enter used car stock.

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

There was also positive news for electric car sales, with transactions up by more than a third (37.5 percent) compared with 2021. However, petrol remained the most popular fuel type, accounting for more than 3.9 million transactions, while diesel was second with 2.7 million transactions.

And while SUVs now feature heavily in the new car market, it seems the humble hatchback remains hugely popular with used car buyers. The Ford Fiesta was 2022’s best-selling used car, followed by the Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Golf. No SUVs made the top 10, although the premium BMW 1 Series, BMW 3 Series and Audi A3 models all made the cut.

“While the market headlines are negative, and reflective of the squeeze on new car supply last year, record electrified vehicle uptake is a bright spot and demonstrates a growing appetite for these models,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “With new car registrations growth expected this year, more of the latest low and zero emission models should become available to second owners. Accelerating uptake is key and will be dependent on drivers being assured of a positive ownership experience. This means ensuring charging infrastructure keeps pace with demand as more new and used car buyers make the switch to zero emission motoring than ever before.”

Vauxhall dealership forecourt London