Used car sales return to pre-recession levels

24th September 2013

The number of used cars being sold in the UK has now returned to pre-recession levels, according to a new report by British Car Auctions (BCA).

The figures in the BCA Used Car Market Report revealed that the average age of vehicles on UK roads has now hit a 30-year high at 7.5 years, with used car sales hitting 7.1 million units in 2012.

This figures outpaced new car sales by climbing 6.4 per cent and meant that the used car market has now reached a record high in terms of value, at £38.1 billion.

Sales of younger used cars between zero and two years old increased significantly last year, rising by 18.6 per cent to 762,000 and reversing the three-year trend of falling volumes in that age group, the BCA indicated.

According to the report, which was carried out by Professor Peter Cooke from the Centre for Automotive Management at University of Buckingham Business School, lower inflation, lower fuel costs, rising employment and a more stable economy have all combined to restore car buyers' confidence.

In terms of sales, dealers continue to dominate the used car market, accounting for 57.2 per cent of all used cars sold in 2012, which represents 74.4 per cent of the total market value.

The number of new cars sold by dealers totalled 4.07 million last year, which is a rise of 8.9 per cent on 2011, while dealer sales of six to eight-year-old cars continued to grow, rising by 125,000 units to total 1.25 million.

Tim Naylor, editor of the report, said the research shows that the used car market has undergone some "very subtle yet significant changes" over the last 12 months.

"Customer expectations in the used car buying process continue to climb and there are changes in how information is gathered when it comes to making used car buying decisions," he explained.

"Overall, there is a little more confidence expressed by motorists in terms of the economic climate, the products they are buying and the service they are receiving."

Mr Naylor said that improving economic indicators could result in more people looking to replace their used car with a better used car in the near future – a prediction backed up by statistics showing that the number of motorists saying they 'certainly' or 'quite likely' will buy a car in the next 12 months has risen from ten per cent to 14 per cent over the past year.