It has been revealed that, following two years of growth, volumes have fallen back in the three to five-year-old sector, where ex-fleet and company cars are strongly represented.
Sales in this segment fell by 177,000 units or 8.5%, in 2004 compared to the previous year.
But latest figures also show that 22% of used car buyers bought a used diesel car, up from 20% last year and just 15% three years ago.
The findings are published in the Used Car Market 2005 published by remarketing giant BCA in association with AM sister-company Sewells Information and Research.
Diesels are mostly favoured by people aged between 35 and 54 – a quarter of this age group are buying used diesels rather than petrol models.
The study said: ‘With continuing rising fuel prices, it was notable that fuel economy remains the most important factor among diesel car buyers.
‘When asked why they buy diesel, ‘better fuel consumption’ was stated as a reason by 82% of motorists.
‘The ‘engine lasts longer’ and a ‘more reliable engine’ were cited by 33% and 30% respectively. Few motorists choose diesel for environmental reasons – just 14% cited this reason this year.’
Hatchbacks and saloons remain the most popular types of used car, accounting for 48% and 26% of sales respectively, according to the study.
It said: ‘Unsurprisingly, the hatchback is most popular with motorists aged 17 to 24, accounting for 58% of sales in this age group. A total of 40% of older buyers (65+) buy saloons. More than half of used cars valued between £15,000 and £20,000 were from the sports/coupe, MPVs and off-road sectors.’
BCA’s report found that although used car sales volumes fell in 2004, the value of the market at £30 billion was the second highest on record. UK motorists bought 6.8 million used cars last year, down 5.2% against 2003, which was 7.2 million units.