February marks fastest selling month on record for franchise retailers
Used car market maintains another month of momentum
Marking another positive month of momentum this year, the latest days to sell data from Auto Trader reveals used cars took a record average of just 23 days to leave franchise forecourts in February. It’s five days faster than the same period last year (28 days), and six days faster than pre-pandemic February 2019 (29 days). Used cars have only sold that quickly on two other occasions, in June 2021 and September 2020, both of which followed the release from heavy COVID restrictions.
Whilst the broader retail market, including independent retailers, saw a slightly longer average, at 25 days, it still marks the second fastest month on record. It’s also one day faster than the same period last year (26 days) and five days faster than February 2019 (30 days). Highlighting the market’s positive trajectory, it’s also 15 days faster than January 2023 (40).
February’s record performance is reflected in the very strong level of engagement on Auto Trader. In January there were a record 80 million cross platform visits to the marketplace, which was up circa 14% year-on-year (YoY). This strong engagement continued into February, with the volume of visits increasing circa 19% on the same period last year.
A low speed of sale is a good indication of the health of the market. Indeed, Auto Trader’s Market Health metric was positive for the second consecutive month in February, increasing 22% YoY, as supply continues to slow (-12% YoY) and demand maintains an upward YoY trajectory (7% YoY).
The market entered 2023 with some real momentum behind it, and based on what we’re seeing, there’s no indication of it slowing anytime soon. The record speed of sale is being fuelled by the steady growth in year-on-year consumer demand, paired with the ongoing squeeze in used car supply, both of which are at their highest and lowest levels in over a year. This positive imbalance of dynamics is not only helping cars to sell at record speeds but is also continuing to drive retail price growth, which together is maintaining a very healthy and profitable used car market.
Data & Insight DirectorCONNECT
Electrics lingering longest on forecourts.
Looking at the data at a more granular level, electric vehicles (EVs) were on average the slowest selling fuel type last month, taking an average of 45 days to leave forecourts. It’s followed by plug-in hybrids (34) and full hybrids (31). Whilst petrol and diesel used cars are selling considerably faster, 25 days and 24 days respectively, the comparison with EVs is skewed due to the difference in the average age of stock. For example, used cars aged up to five years-old (the bulk of EV stock) took an average of 33 days to sell in February, versus just 22 for those cars aged over five years.
Despite lingering on forecourts longer on average, there were exceptions to the rule. ‘Nearly new’ (up to one-years-old) Tesla Model Ys took an average of just 12 days to sell last month, making it the UK’s eighth fastest selling used car. In fact, of the top 10, low emission vehicles made up 40% of the fastest sellers, including the plug-in hybrid variant of the Kia Sportage (up to one-years-old), which topped the overall list, flying off forecourts in a staggering eight days.
Walker continued: “EV demand remains buoyant, but unlike its ICE counterparts, where supply is trickling through, the EV floodgates have been opened, resulting in a tsunami of used stock entering the market. Volumes of used ICE cars were down 20% last month year-on-year, but EVs were up over 260%. It’s this overbalance, which is slowing the speed of sale, and causing a rebalancing in retail prices. As our data highlights, however, the market is incredibly nuanced, and so a broad-brush rarely reflects the true picture. It’s critical therefore to follow the data to find the best opportunities for your market.”
Top 10 fastest selling used cars (all fuel types) | February 2023
Top 10 slowest selling used cars (all fuel types) | February 2023
Top 10 fastest selling used cars (electric) | February 2023
 All average figures based on median days to sell
 September 2020 marks the total market all-time low at 24 days.
 Increasing from circa 63 million in February 2022 to circa 75 million in February 2023
 Based on stock on Auto Trader
 Up 47% year-on-year in February 2023
 Used EV retail prices fell 10.6% year-on-year in February 2023
 Based on a minimum of 30 cars sold
 Based on a minimum of 50 cars sold
About Auto Trader
Auto Trader Group plc is the UK and Ireland's largest digital automotive marketplace. Auto Trader listed on the London Stock Exchange in March 2015 and is now a member of the FTSE 100 Index.
The marketplace sits at the heart of the vehicle buying and selling journeys, with the largest number of car buyers and the largest choice of trusted stock. Auto Trader exists to Drive Change Together. Responsibly. It aims to grow both its car buying audience and core advertising business and is focused on changing how the UK shops for cars by providing the best online car buying experience, enabling all retailers to sell online. It aims to build stronger partnerships with its customers, use its voice and influence to drive more environmentally friendly vehicle choices and create a diverse business and inclusive culture.
Auto Trader publishes a monthly used car Retail Price Index which is based on daily pricing analysis of circa 900,000 vehicles, this data is used by the Bank of England and other financial institutions to feed the broader UK economic indicators.
For more information, please visit https://plc.autotrader.co.uk/
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