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Used car market reaches 3.7m in first half of 2001

DVLA statistics analysed by automotive data specialists Polk show that used car sales in January-June of this year reached 3,761,956 units. Without allowing for seasonal variations, the first-half year total represents a growth rate of 11.3% over full-year 2000 figures.

Total sales of 6.76m used cars last year look set to be exceeded this year as retail new car buyers return to showrooms and boost new car sales, with strong September registrations expected by the industry with the inception of the new-style '51' number plate.

The latest annual edition of auction group BCA's Used Car Report estimated the value of the year 2000 used car market at £27.3 billion, or an average of about £4,000 per unit. As residual values have strengthened in recent months, the value of the 2001 used car market looks set to better last year's estimates, says Polk.

Analysis by Polk shows that the used market shares of the major brands hardly changed at all – by less than 1% - and rankings were unchanged in the first half of this year from the previous full year.

National used car sales, all ages, January - June 2001 (units and share of market)
Ford 861,088 22.9%
Vauxhall 556,257 14.8%
Rover 287,143 7.6%
Peugeot 262,924 7.0%
Renault 208,673 5.5%
Volkswagen 198,255 5.3%
Nissan 177,001 4.7%
Fiat 133,087 3.5%
Citroen 117,043 3.1%
BMW 106,707 2.8%
Total 3,761,956

The Polk data shows that January-June sales of 'nearly-new cars' - used cars up to one year old - stood at 343,311, or 26% of new car sales in the period.

“The rapid rate of exchange of new cars reflects the buying policies of daily rental firms as well as the short-term holdings of manufacturers' and dealer networks' own fleets of demonstrators and press fleet cars. During the whole of the year 2000, sales of used cars up to a year old equalled nearly 30% of new car sales. The change in the ratio in the six months to June may reflect the reduction of pre-registrations of new cars, now that legislation requires manufacturers and importers to declare them separately from their total registrations,” the reports says.

Nearly-new stock represented 10% of all used car sales in January-June 2001. The 1.2m sales of cars up to four years old, the segment in which new car dealers specialise, accounted for nearly 32% of the total used car market.

Used cars aged 10 years and over accounted for another third of the total used car market, while ages ranging from five to 10 years old each held shares of between 5 and 6% – in aggregate, over a third of the used car market, and a segment shared by the specialised used car trade and by private exchanges.

National used car sales all ages, by model, January - June 2001
Ford Fiesta 252,696 6.7%
Ford Escort 240,016 6.4%
Vauxhall Astra 168,607 4.5%
Vauxhall Cavalier 117,438 3.1%
Ford Mondeo 111,915 3.0%
Volkswagen Golf 89,363 2.4%
Ford Sierra 81,404 2.2%
Nissan Micra 73,921 2.0%
BMW 3 Series 71,425 1.9%
Vauxhall Corsa 71,307 1.9%

Used car sales of all ages of vehicle in January-June this year saw 5-door hatchbacks taking 39.3% of sales, followed by 3-door hatchbacks with 24% and saloons accounting for 17.6%. Saloons accounted for only 11.9% of new car registrations in 2000, and for 11.5% from January-June. The DVLA registration form makes no distinction between conventional shaped cars and their MPV, cabrio or off-road equivalents, so it is not possible to measure the undoubtedly growing population of the latter in used sales or in the vehicle population.

Estates accounted for 10.9% of used sales in the first half-year, but 14.1% of new registrations in the same period, while coupes (and open-top roadsters) are also growing in popularity, accounting for 3.2% of new sales but only 2.2% of used.

The top two colours in the used car market are still red and blue, with just over 24% each of all sales. Blue swapped with red to take the top spot in first-half 2001. White cars stayed in third place with 11.8% of sales. The picture will change from white to silver in a few years, now that metallic silver is the most popular new car colour, with 28% of first-half new registrations. Metallic silver already accounted for 12.5 per cent of the national parc at the end of June.(October 3, 2001)

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