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Used car registrations show small decline in Q1 despite dealerships closure

NFDA 11/05/2021

“It is encouraging that used car transactions experienced just a small decline in the first quarter of the year with growth year-on-year in March, demonstrating retailers’ resilience and their ability to meet the consumer demand while dealerships were closed”, Sue Robinson, NFDA Chief Executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), commenting on the latest SMMT’s used car figures.

The latest SMMT figures showed the used car market fell -8.9% in Q1 2021 compared to the same period in 2020 with 1,687,755 transactions. Registrations were down by -16.5% compared to 2019.

The overall decline was driven by large falls in January and February (-27.1% and -19.4% respectively), as dealerships remained shut due to covid restrictions, whilst they could still operate as usual in 2020.

Positively, March saw strong results with a 32.2% year-on-year rise thanks to a total of 638,570 used cars changing hands. This is compared to a particularly weak March in 2020 when the UK entered its first lockdown.

According to SMMT’s figures, PHEVs rose by 32.1%t to 10,534 units, and BEVs surged 48.3% to 6,564 sales whilst HEV transactions rose 16.6% to 27,694 units. However, the combined number of plug-in vehicles traded still represented only 1.0% of the market, up from 0.7% in Q1 2020. 

Sue Robinson added: “It is positive to see that despite the challenges facing the used car market, sales of electrified vehicles performed well. Sales in this sector are set to continue their upward trajectory as the new market for electric vehicles matures and more models become available.

“Going forward, there is optimism following the reopening of showroom. Current constraints to the supply new cars may have an impact on the used car market with more buyers considering nearly new cars”.

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About the RMI

The Retail Motor Industry represents the interests of operators in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man providing sales and services to motorists and businesses. The RMI has a formal association with the independent Scottish Motor Trade Association which represents the retail motor industry in Scotland.