Recent data released by Auto Trader indicates a robust beginning to the second quarter for the used car market in the United Kingdom. April marked a significant upswing in consumer demand, transactions, and retail prices, signalling a positive shift after a challenging period.

April witnessed the first month-on-month increase in a year, with the market experiencing a 1.1 per cent uptick on a like-for-like basis. Since 2011, April has consistently shown an upturn in used car prices following the March plate change. Although slightly below the pre-COVID average of approximately 2.2 per cent, this increase suggests a return to historical norms.

Top 10 used car price growth (all fuel types) | April 2024 vs April 2023 

Rank

Make

Model

Apr 24 Average Asking Price

Price Change (YoY)

Price Change 
(MoM)

1

Audi

R8

£75,527

4.2%

1.6%

2

Mercedes-Benz

SL Class

£28,890

3.4%

2.4%

3

Volkswagen

Beetle

£7,770

2.5%

2.8%

4

Porsche

Boxster

£20,404

1.4%

1.8%

5

Land Rover

Freelander 2

£7,833

0.7%

2.7%

6

Bentley

Continental

£55,736

0.4%

1.7%

7

BMW

M5

£43,976

-0.1%

3.9%

8

Peugeot

Partner Tepee

£8,996

-0.6%

1.8%

9

Mercedes-Benz

CLS

£17,158

-0.6%

1.8%

10

Toyota

Yaris

£13,010

-0.9%

2.0%

Despite retail prices still lagging behind 2023 figures by 9.3 per cent, the upward trend can be attributed to favourable market dynamics. While the volume of used cars entering the market experienced a slight decline of 1.1 per cent year-on-year last month — the first decrease in supply levels since the summer — consumer demand on Auto Trader surged by around 9 per cent, marking the highest rate of growth since December.

"2024 got off to a strong start, and it’s very reassuring to see it continue so confidently into Q2, with very robust demand helping retailers to sell more stock, more quickly. Disappointingly, prices do remain down year-on-year, but the month-on-month growth and return to seasonal norms is another positive sign of the retail market stabilising," Richard Walker, Auto Trader’s data and insights director, commented.

Encouragingly, Auto Trader's consumer research indicates a continued high demand, with approximately 80 per cent of in-market car buyers surveyed expressing confidence in their ability to afford their next vehicle, consistent with last year's sentiment. Furthermore, 81 per cent of surveyed car buyers stated their intention to purchase their next car within the next six months, up from 77 per cent in the previous month.

The recent trends in the used car market not only signal resilience but also offer a glimmer of hope for the industry's recovery from the challenges posed by the pandemic and other factors. With sustained demand and favourable market dynamics, the sector appears poised for further growth in the coming months.