Auto Trader's commercial director, Ian Plummer, shares his thoughts on the latest used car sales figures from the SMMT
“If there are fewer new cars rolling off the production line, then it stands to reason that there are fewer used cars to be sold. Today’s figures underline the point with a not insignificant slide in used car sales compared to pre-Covid levels. The lingering supply chain crunch means fleet operators and leasing firms are hanging on to vehicles for much longer, further limiting the number of used cars entering the market. The real pinch point is for younger used cars aged less than three years old, as there are at least 2m fewer available compared to pre-pandemic levels. This is due to the massive recent shortfall in new car sales – caused by the double whammy of forecourt closures and the global shortage of semi-conductors.
“The key point though is where used cars are available, demand is still very robust. Whilst younger cars have been heavily impacted by the new car market, from the 202m visits to our platform during the first quarter, we saw a strong appetite for older cars - particularly those between five and ten years old - where stock is much less of an issue. Sales in this segment were up a huge 20% on 2019.
“This demand, coupled with the broader squeeze on supply has continued to drive very strong price growth, with our latest data showing average prices were up over 32% in April. Contrary to some speculation, despite a softening in month-on-month price growth, anyone expecting a significant drop in retail prices anytime soon will be sorely disappointed.
“Meanwhile the cost-of-living squeeze and war in Ukraine pushed far more would-be buyers towards used electric vehicles. Reflecting the huge growth in sales, our marketplace data showed 12.4m advert views for used EVs in the first quarter, a significant 65% jump in the past 12 months.”