Used car market continues positive trajectory in February as prices, sales and demand record uptick
Robust levels of demand in market, as Auto Trader sees a record 80 million visits in January
According to the latest data from Auto Trader, the health of the used car market is continuing to build momentum, with growth recorded in demand, sales, and retail prices. In fact, Auto Trader’s Retail Price Index, which is based on daily pricing analysis of circa 900,000 vehicles across the market, shows the current average price of a used car is £17,880, which marks a 1.7% year-on-year (YoY) increase on a like-for-like basis.
Although the rate of growth is down significantly from a peak of 32% YoY in April 2022, this current rate is on top of the massive 31.9% YoY increase recorded this time last year. It also marks a month-on-month (MoM) increase of 0.7%, which is not only ahead of the 0.3% recorded last month, but also the 0.4% February average between 2011 and 2019.
Prices have remained stable due to the ongoing demand and supply dynamics in the market. Although demand has softened against the previous highs recorded during 2021, overall levels remain robust, which is reflected in the very strong consumer engagement on Auto Trader. In January, there were a record 80 million visits to its marketplace, which is nearly 10 million more than the prior year. Reassuringly, this uplift in demand is translating into used car sales, which according to Auto Trader’s sales-proxy data, were up circa 8% YoY last month.
Another indicator of consumer demand is the is the speed in which used cars are leaving retailers’ forecourts. Auto Trader’s data shows that used cars are currently taking an average of just 25 days to sell, which is one day faster than February last year (26), and five days faster than pre-pandemic averages. Highlighting the market’s positive trajectory, it’s also 15 days faster than January (40).
This strong level of demand in the market, coupled with the ongoing shortfall in stock (down -11% YoY), is not only keeping used car prices stable, but also supporting a healthy and profitable sales market. In fact, Auto Trader’s used car Market Health metric, is up 17% YoY this month. It follows an 8% YoY increase in January, which was the first positive month of growth in over a year.
Over the last few months we’ve been seeing and hearing reassuring signs of a used car market in very robust health.
Data & Insight DirectorCONNECT
"These metrics, along with wider macro-economic bellwethers, such as January’s softening in inflation rates and the increasing optimism for household finances, adds to our confident outlook for the year ahead."
Batteries running low for used EV prices
Despite recording a positive YoY and MoM growth, average used car prices are being impacted by the ongoing contraction in used electric vehicle (EV) values (£34,197), which as of mid-February, are down -9.1% on the same period last year. In contrast, the average price of a used petrol (£16,266) and diesel (£16,326) car is up 3.3% and 1.4% respectively.
Highlighting the nuance of EVs, it’s evident the decline in prices is being heavily influenced by the premium end of the market. Indeed, whilst the current average value of volume EV brands (£26,309) have fallen by a relatively conservative -3.7% YoY, their premium brand counterparts (£43,762) have dropped by a whopping -13.1%. This disparity has been fuelled, in part, by Tesla’s new car price cut, and the subsequent adjustment in used prices; the price of a one-year-old Standard Range model fell circa £1,400 overnight on Auto Trader
More broadly, the drop in average used EV prices is being driven by the huge overbalance of supply in the market. Whilst demand levels for used EVs on Auto Trader remain stable – up circa 40% YoY – the rate of stock growth has rocketed, with current supply up 303% YoY. Auto Trader’s data, which is based on the broadest single view of electric vehicles in the market, shows this trend at a more granular level: so far this month, the volume of used Mercedes-Benz EQA in the market has increased 823% YoY (demand +71.9%), whilst the number of MG MG5s (demand +56.5%) and Vauxhall Mokka-e’s (demand 77.5%) have increased 918%, and 958% respectively.
Walker added: “What’s happening in used EV prices is a natural consequence of a sudden and sharp increase in supply. Consumer demand has been dampened slightly by high energy prices in the last few months, but contrary to what some reports may suggest, consumer appetite for electric has far from fallen off a cliff. Availability and affordability have been major drivers in the success of some brands in the new EV market, so this increase in stock and the slight reduction in prices may well encourage more used car buyers to make the switch to electric.”
 As of 16th February 2023
 Based on the volume of stock removed from Auto Trader in January
 It took an average of 30 days for a car to sell in February 2019
 Ford, Vauxhall, Peugeot, Nissan, Citroen, Kia, Hyundai, MG, Renault, SEAT, SKODA, Honda, Toyota, Fiat, Suzuki, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Smart, Dacia, Jeep, Subaru, Volkswagen
 Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Jaguar, Tesla, Volvo, MINI, DS AUTOMOBILES, Lexus, Abarth, Alfa Romeo
 Falling from an average of £38,994 on the 15th January to £37,599 on the 16th.
 Based on volume of searches and advert views on Auto Trader
About the Retail Price Index
The Auto Trader Retail Price Index (RPI) is published monthly and provides an overview of the latest price and search data from our marketplace. Our team of data scientists monitor circa 900,000 vehicles each day, including 116,000 vehicle updates and an average of 39,000 vehicles added or removed from Auto Trader. Coupled with data from circa 450,000 trade car listings every day, as well as additional retailer forecourts and website data (OEM, fleet and leasing disposal prices and pricing data from over 3,000 car dealership websites and data from major auction houses across the UK), ensuring the Index is an accurate reflection of the live retail market.
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 to feed the broader UK economic indicators.
For more information, please visit https://plc.autotrader.co.uk/
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