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Used car sales grow by 11.5% in 2021

Used car sales increased by 11.5% in 2021 as the global semiconductor shortage squeezed new car supply, data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has shown.  

A total of 7,530,956 used cars were sold in the UK last year, up from 6,752,959 in 2020 but still 5.5% below the pre-pandemic five-year average.

The Ford Fiesta was the best-selling used car, with 326,346 transactions, followed by the Vauxhall Corsa with 262,488 and the Volkswagen Golf with 251,265.  

Demand for electrified models reached record levels. Battery electric vehicles (BEVs) grew 119.2% to 40,228 transactions, while sales of used plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) rose by 75.6% to 56,861. Hybrids rose by 50.3% to 137,639, also a new high.

Overall, low-emission cars represented 3.1% of the market, which the SMMT says is because of “an increasing number of ultra-low and zero-emissions models filtering through to second owners”.

Even with record demand for electrified models, sales of used petrol and diesel models grew by 10.7% and 9.8% respectively, forming 96.6% of the total sales figure, with 7,277,291 transactions. 

“It’s good to see the used car market return to growth, even if activity is still below where we were pre-pandemic,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “With the global shortage of semiconductors set to ease later this year, releasing the squeeze on new car supply, we expect more of the latest, cleanest and zero-emissions models to become available for second owners.

“The demand for personal mobility has undoubtedly increased during the pandemic, so it’s vital we have healthy new car sales to drive fleet renewal and the used car market if we’re to improve air quality and address climate change.”

Superminis were the most popular car type on the used market, with a share of 32.7%, followed by lower-medium-size cars with 26.4% and dual-purpose vehicles with 13.2%. 

The SMMT says all segments had an increased number of transactions, while demand for dual-purpose cars increased the most – 18.3%, with almost a million changing hands.


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