The used car market in the UK has recorded a 6.5% increase in the first quarter of 2024, with 1,967,923 units sold, as per data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). 

This is said to mark the strongest beginning to a year since 2019.  

The growth, spanning 16 months, reflects an improvement in the supply of new cars, enhancing the availability and choice of second-hand vehicles.  

However, despite this positive trend, the market is still 2.6% below pre-pandemic levels. 

During the quarter, battery-electric vehicle sales surged by 71%, reaching 41,505 units and claiming a 2.1% market share.  

BEVs have become the fastest-growing powertrain segment, as more consumers are drawn to their cost-saving and environmental benefits.  

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Hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) also reported sales growth, with HEVs up by 49.3% and PHEVs by 42.5%. 

Despite the surge in electric and hybrid vehicles, petrol cars still dominate the market, with sales up by 7.7% to 1,130,396. 

Diesel vehicles, however, experienced a decline of 1.3% to 697,718. 

Combined, conventional powertrains accounted for 92.9% of all transactions, although their market share decreased slightly as more buyers opted for electrified options. 

Superminis remained the most sought-after vehicle type, with sales rising by 7.2%.  

The lower medium segment saw the largest volume gain while dual-purpose vehicles had the highest percentage growth. These segments made up three-quarters of all sales in the period.  

On the contrary, executive, luxury saloon, and upper medium categories registered a decline in sales. 

SMMT CEO Mike Hawes said: “A reinvigorated new car market is delivering more choice and affordability for used car buyers and, increasingly, they are choosing to go electric.  

“To enable even more drivers to enjoy the benefits of zero-emission motoring, ensuring both supply and demand remain robust is essential. Incentivising new EV uptake and investing in a ChargePoint network that is accessible, available and affordable to all will drive the nation’s net-zero transition.”