Sales of used electric cars double in UK as price of petrol pushes drivers away

Electric cars: Global supply shortages discussed by expert

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More secondhand electric vehicles were sold in the UK in the first three months of 2022 than ever before as sales of all used cars increased by 5.1 percent. The market for used EVs doubled as drivers began to look for alternatives to expensive fossil fuels.

The latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed UK used car sales shot up overall in January with a 17.7 percent increase before that rise dropped in February and actually declined 6.8 percent in March.

But the most dramatic jump was in sales of used battery electric vehicles (BEVs), which run purely on electric power, growing from 6,625 to 14,586 in the first three months of the year, a rise of 120.2 percent from a year earlier.

Plug in hybrids (PHEVs) and hybrids (HEVs) which together make up a larger share of the used car market also sold in greater numbers, totalling just under 50,000 vehicles.

More than 1.77million cars were sold overall in the first quarter of 2022, an increase of 5.1 percent on 2022.

Small cars made up the vast majority of those, with the top five models including the Ford Fiesta, the Vauxhall Corsa and the VW Golf.

Black was by far the most popular colour choice, with 383,418 cars sold, beating silver into second place.

More used cars were sold in the South East of the UK than any other region, three times more than in Wales.

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Petrol and diesel prices climbed to all-time record highs at the start of this year, the crisis leading to Chancellor Rishi Sunak imposing a 5p fuel duty cut.

But that failed to have any meaningful impact on prices which today stand at an average of 164p per litre of petrol and 177p for diesel.

Campaign group FairfuelUK’s research shows that pump prices in April were around 14p to 19p higher than “they should be” and more than £500million has been taken out of driver’s pockets in just one month.

Figures from last month show that oil prices fell by 12 percent compared to the previous month, yet at the same time, the average pump prices for petrol increased 1.3p per litre, while wholesale prices are said to have fallen by 6.8p.

Of the jump in EV sales, Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “Zero emission vehicles [are] starting to filter through in larger numbers to consumers looking forward to driving the latest and greenest vehicles

“Although there is some way to go before we see the recent growth in new EVs replicated in the used market, a buoyant new car market will be vital to help drive fleet renewal which is essential to the delivery of carbon savings.”

Hugo Griffiths, Features Editor at Carwow said: “A combination of factors is driving this surge. Supply-chain constraints for new EVs is pushing increasing numbers of buyers to the used market, where there has never been a greater choice of electric cars, including models for those with tighter budgets.

“A desire for cleaner motoring is undoubtedly influencing buyer behaviour too, as is the growing number of emission zones appearing across the country.”

Richard Peberdy, UK Head of Automotive, KPMG, said: “Supply shortages, worsened by the pandemic and Ukraine conflict, have severely limited new car production and used car prices have been soaring like never seen before.

“The increasing cost of living is cooling the used car market slightly, but demand still remains high and is likely to continue to until the issues impacting new car production are resolved and more supply enters the used car market. That is unlikely to be this year.

“With more attractive margins than in the past, automotive businesses have been quick to invest in their used car operations, including considerable investment from online operators.

“The challenge in time will be managing inventory levels as prices begin to correct themselves. But for now demand is greater than supply, including for the emerging used BEV market.”

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