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Record year for used car demand

Britain’s used car market reached record levels in 2016, with 8.2 million vehicles finding new owners – an increase of 7.3% on 2015, according to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders.

The market reflected the changes in new car consumer tastes, with smaller car demand showing no sign of slowing. Superminis were again the best-selling body type, accounting for more than a third of all used car sales, while transactions of city cars grew by 11.5%. Of all body types, however, SUVs’ popularity rose the fastest – up by nearly 17% to take an 8.3% share of the market.

Although petrol still leads as the used fuel type of choice with more than 4.6 million used vehicles traded, its market share fell slightly (by 1.5%) as alternatively-fuelled vehicle (AFV) and diesel demand enjoyed greater growth, again reflecting the shift in new car sales to diesel over the past decade or so. Used AFV registrations rose by 32.5%, while diesels increased by 11.1% and petrol transactions grew by 4.7%.

Regionally, 14.9% of all used cars changing hands in 2016 did so in the South East of England, followed by North West England where more than one in 10 of the UK’s used cars were sold (10.4%), and the East with 9.8% market share.

Silver remained the number one used car colour choice with 417,937 transactions, ahead of black (380,226), blue (344,060), grey (223,358) and red (194,922), while brown entered the top ten in place of gold.

“On the back of a record 2016 for UK new car registrations, it’s further good news that our used car market is in such good health,” Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s Chief Executive said. “Strong demand is testament to the quality, reliability and appeal of cars on sale today, with used buyers enjoying more choice, more low emission, safety and connected technology than ever. Providing economic conditions remain stable and interest rates low, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t see growth in this sector continue in 2017.”