The UK’s used car market held steady in 2019, helped by an increase of sales in the second half of last year and a substantial rise in demand for electrified cars.

A total of 7,935,105 used cars were bought last year, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) – just 9935 short of 2018. The 0.1% decline was aided by two quarters of growth in the second half of last year.

The bulk of those sales were petrol-engined cars, the 4,494,611 sold down 0.3% on 2018. Contrasting with the new car market, used diesel sales dipped by just 0.6% year on year. 

Sales of used alternatively fuelled vehicles – including hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully electric cars – rose by 23.4% to 135,516, although that accounted for just 1.7% of all sales. Of those vehicles, 14,112 were full EVs, up 21.8% year on year.

While 2019 marked the third consecutive year of decline in the used car market, it was still the fourth-highest year on record. The data also shows that used car prices remained strong in 2019, with the average transaction price rising 0.6% to £12,800.

SMMT boss Mike Hawes said: “It is encouraging to see used car sales return to growth in the latter part of 2019 after a prolonged period of decline, and we need to see a similar rebound in new car sales if we are to meet environmental targets.

“A buoyant used car market is necessary to maintain strong residual values and, clearly, it is now outperforming the new car market. This does, however, suggest that weak consumer confidence and ongoing uncertainty over possible future restrictions on different vehicle technologies are causing some car buyers to hold off buying new models.”

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