After nine consecutive quarters of shrinkage in the market, the popularity of used cars experienced a fillip recently with the news that 2019’s third quarter saw a 0.9% increase in sales of preowned vehicles. The figures, released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), showed that a total of 2,076,382 used models were driven off forecourts around the UK between July and September. At an increase of nearly 20,000, it’s positive news for the environment as these cars are saved from scrappage – but what does it mean for the automotive industry in general?
Brexit-related caution over big purchases?
It’s 2019, so any question pertaining to major financial outlays will have to be run through the inevitable filter of Brexit. No matter where you’re coming from on the topic, it’s generally advised that big-ticket purchases are a bad idea during times of uncertainty – and with used cars costing a fraction of what a new model will set you back, it’s no surprise that motorists in need of a car are finding themselves drawn back to preowned vehicle. It would be no shock at all to see the uptick in used model sales continue for as long as the UK’s economic picture remains murky; that would be a sure sign that buyers are avoiding the bigger price tags for the moment.
Longer warranties make used purchases more viable?
Once upon a time, there was a huge element of “buyer beware” related to buying used cars, as the chances were that the person selling the older vehicle was doing so for a good reason. With limited protections in place for the buyer, there was a not-insignificant possibility that within days of driving away in your not-so-new car you would notice faults – but by then, of course, it would be too late to do anything about them. More recently, the number of people keen to upgrade their cars has meant means that a lot of cars are becoming available on a preowned basis while still under warranty – making them a more attractive proposition.
Excitement at more electric models hitting the preowned lots?
A drill down into the statistics emerging from the SMMT shows that, of the cars sold during Q3, there has been a 13% increase in the number of electric or hybrid vehicles being bought from used car lots. Given that the UK is under a target to get fossil-fuel cars off the roads within the next two decades, the move towards zero-emissions vehicles has begun – and it is only going to get more pronounced from here. Indeed, given that sales of petrol vehicles continued to drop through the last quarter, there are signs that purchasers are prioritising greener vehicles – and the fact that one can now find such vehicles at preowned lots is a game changer.
Whether it’s a case of keeping your financial powder dry for a little longer, or a desire to join the green transport revolution, the fact remains the same: used cars are increasingly a popular option among people in the market for a vehicle.