The UK used car market finished 2019 almost exactly the same as the previous year with a 0.1% drop in sales, driven by growth in the second half of the year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The SMMT reported 7,935,105 transactions took place in the year which is down 9,935 on 2018.

There was continued demand for used petrol and diesel cars, with sales of diesel down just slightly 0.6% to 3,297,953 and a 41.7% market share. Petrol sales fell by 0.3% to 4,494,611 transactions which contrasted the zero emission, battery electric vehicle demand which surged 21.8%.

Combined, alternatively fuelled vehicle sales increased 23.4% with 135,516 changing hands and accounting for 1.7% of all sales.

Transactions of the latest, cleanest Euro 6 models which were available since 2015 were up 32.5% as more reached the used market.

Superminis remained the most popular used purchase taking a 32.8% market share.

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Black was the most popular colour option for used cars in 2019, up 1.4% to 1.6m sales followed by silver and blue.

The SMMT also reported used car prices remaining stable in 2019 with the average up 0.6% to £12,800.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, 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. This is delaying the fleet renewal we need now if we are to deliver immediate and continuous improvement in air quality and climate change,” he added.

Seán Kemple, director of sales at Close Brothers Motor Finance added: “We may not have seen a roaring ‘Boris Bounce’ in car sales, but increased consumer confidence following the election has meant the traditional winter slowdown has been less biting and the tail end of December gave the quarter a much needed boost. On the whole, the tough 2019 for new car sales hasn’t hit as hard in the used market, and we’re likely to see this trend continue as drivers look to cut costs.”

“In the run up to the petrol, diesel, and hybrid new car ban coming into play in 2035, the used market is the one to watch. Used diesel sales fell just 0.6%, a stark contrast to the 21.8% slump in new diesel cars in 2019 – evidently, drivers more suited to traditional fuel types are looking to second-hand vehicles to meet their needs. And even greener drivers can go second-hand, as the accelerating demand for alternative fuel vehicles trickles down from the new market – AFVs made up 1.7% of used cars sold in 2019, a 23.4% increase on 2018. For dealers, keeping on top of changing consumer attitudes is key – refreshed stock and an impressive digital forecourt will maximise sales and boost the bottom line,” he concluded.