13 Jul 2024
The voice of the independent garage sector

99 problems but used BEV sales ain’t one: Second hand electric sales shoot up in Q3

Used car sales were up 5.5% in Q3, with 1,884,160 vehicle transactions taking place, according to the latest figures from the SMMT, with second hand battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales up 99.9% on the same period in 2022.

Overall, BEVs now make up 1.8% of the used market, where they were from 1% last year. Plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) were up 34.6%, with hybrids (HEVs) growing by 46.4% respectively. Petrol car sales were up 4% to 1,065,448 , with diesel growing by 2.3%, hitting a total of 704,204 sold.

SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes observed: “The used car market continues to grow strongly, with re-energised supply unlocking demand for pre-owned electric vehicles – the result being twice as many motorists switching to zero emission motoring in the quarter. Maintaining this momentum requires growth in the new car market, to boost supply to the used sector and cement this success. Equally important is the urgent need for charging infrastructure rollout so that all drivers can have confidence in being able to charge whenever and wherever they need.”

Andy Hamilton, CEO at LKQ Euro Car Parts, said :“A growing second-hand market is good news for independent garages. EVs in particular are becoming increasingly accessible for motorists looking to switch. There has been a lot of talk about the potential impact of the ban on new ICE vehicles being pushed back, but today we can see that demand for EVs remains strong, as drivers look to take advantage of lower running costs and other in-life benefits.

“Stronger political will is needed if we’re going to maintain this momentum. Drivers of used EVs shouldn’t be paying over the odds to service and repair them in the dealerships, so it’s vital that independent garages can do the work. Garage owners need support with the cost of retooling and upskilling staff, and a willingness from OEMs to collaborate – not just on access to RMI data and coded parts, but also when it comes to refurbishing and repairing key components, to maximise the lifespan of an EV and realise the sustainability benefits fully.

Andy added: “More widely, OEMs need support so they can keep feeding the market with new vehicles, and so that the oldest, most polluting vehicles can continue to drop out of the bottom. And it goes without saying that as a minimum, the rollout of charging infrastructure must keep pace with EV adoption for the technology to be viable at scale.”

Matas Buzelis, car expert at carVertical, commented: “The used car market is going from strength to strength, even as consumers grapple with tightened finances. We often see a spike in demand for used cars when the economy is struggling. But this growth goes hand in hand with the new car market recording a 15th successive month of increasing sales, which is great news for the UK motoring industry. Sales of used EVs have doubled as drivers increasingly opt for greener vehicles which will future-proof them for the introduction of more clean air zones around the country.

“Although this overall increase in sales is encouraging, there are signs that drivers may be increasingly buying older vehicles with more miles on the clock, as they are usually a more affordable option. The average age of cars on Britain’s roads has now reached 9.3 years, an all-time high. This puts drivers more at risk of buying a worn car that needs costly repairs down the road — overriding the savings they made by buying a cheaper model in the first place. Drivers need to make sure they look at the full history of any used car they are considering to ensure they are getting good value for money.”

Mark Oakley, Director of AA Cars, added: “The strength of these latest SMMT figures is a testament to the enduring appeal of second-hand cars when economic times are tough. With household budgets being simultaneously squeezed by high interest rates and the rising cost of living, many drivers who need to replace their car are opting for the value of a used model. Electric vehicles – though still only accounting for a small percentage of used sales overall – are increasingly making their presence felt as thousands of nearly new models came onto the market and sales doubled over the quarter.”