UK used car transactions grew by 4.4% in the third quarter with more than two million vehicles changing hands as showrooms reopened.

The UK’s used car market increased by 4.4% in Q3 after two consecutive quarters of decline, signalling the busiest quarter since he end of 2016, according to the latest figures by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

A total of 2,168,599 used car transactions took place between July and September and growth was recorded in each month of the quarter, with September plate-change driving highest increase of 6.3%.

Despite the significant growth, the UK’s used car market is still down from last year with 1,070,941 fewer transactions over the first nine months representing a decline of -17.5% overall.

Demand for pre-owned battery electric vehicles (BEVs), which saw a decline of -29.7% in the Q2 recovered up by 34.4% in Q3 and 4.4% in the year to date. At the same time, sales of plug-in hybrids increased by 35.7%, with 10,040 changing hands. Petrol and diesel cars both saw an increase in sales of 4.5% and 2.6% respectively, accounting for 97.42% of all used transactions during the quarter.

Superminis remained the most popular segment with 698,587 purchases, accounting for 32.0% of transactions. The lower medium was the next best seller with 27.0% of the total market share. Meanwhile, the dual-purpose segment showed the largest percentage growth (16.6%) with 13.0% market share as more of these popular vehicles entered the used market. The Ford Fiesta was the best-selling model in Q3 and ‘black’ held its position as the number one colour among used car buyers.

With England entering a new lockdown and the introduction of tougher restrictions and ‘firebreaks’ across the devolved nations, sales in the fourth quarter are expected to be ‘heavily affected’, SMMT suggests.

It is encouraging to see that used car sales performed well in the third quarter of the year, demonstrating strong consumer appetite when showrooms reopened following the outbreak of covid-19. In light of the new lockdown in England and additional measures across the UK, it is important that dealerships reopen as soon as safe possible to safely give motorists the opportunity to change their current cars to opt for newer, cleaner ones and, as a result, safeguard thousands of jobs in our industry.