Sales of used electric cars have reached a record high even as the rest of the used car market struggles.
New data from the UK motor industry reveals that sales of secondhand pure electric cars jumped by 44% in the third quarter of 2022 compared with the same period in 2021 even as overall used transactions fell by 12.2%.
A total of 16,775 used electric cars were bought in the UK between July and September, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said. That increased EVs’ share of the market from 3.3% to 4%, reflecting the rising trend in new EV sales. New EV registrations rose 76% during 2021 and are up a further 49% so far this year. EVs now represent 14% of the new car market, compared with 11.6% at the end of 2021.
While EV sales climbed, the overall number of used cars bought between July and September was 1.8 million, which is the first time quarterly transactions dipped below two million since 2015. The SMMT said the decrease was down to new car supply shortages causing a knock-on shortage in the used market. The same issue has been blamed for the rising cost of used cars over the last two years.
SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “Given the short supply of new cars due largely to sustained chip shortages, a declining used car market comes as little surprise, although it’s great to see a growing number of used buyers able to get into an electric car. The demand is clearly there and to feed it we need a buoyant new car market, which means giving buyers confidence to invest.
James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars, said that after a strong start to the year, the used car market was suffering due to supply problems and the changing economic atmosphere. He commented: “ Ironically the first factor holding back used car sales is something that boosted second-hand sales at the start of the year - problems in the supply of new cars. 12.6% fewer new cars rolled off UK production lines in the first nine months of the year than did during the same period last year, and with global production also off the pace, the number of nearly new cars now coming onto the second-hand market is short of where it should be.
“The weakening economy is also taking its toll. As consumer confidence falls, double-digit inflation is eating into people’s disposable incomes and their willingness to buy big ticket items like a car.”
Alex Buttle, co-founder of used car marketplace Motorway, said the rising demand for used EVs was only likely to accelerate in coming months. He said: “Electric vehicles are becoming the hottest ticket in town. With lengthy wait times for new cars of up to a year, motorists have realised the used car market is the quickest, as well as most affordable, way to make their switch to electric. As more drivers make the leap, demand for used EVs will continue to soar.”