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Used car market shows resilience

UK used car market is expected to be at 6.8 million units by the end of this year, a growth of 7% in a decade.

The figures come from Trend Tracker, The Future of the Used Car Market in Great Britain 2009-2014.

Although the used car market shrank by 5.9% in the first half of this year it will still have grown from 6.38m units in 1999 to an estimated 6.8m by the end of this year – a growth of 7% in a decade.

At its peak in 2006, the used car market in the UK saw 7.7m cars change hands.

Declining new car sales

In contrast, new car sales have been declining since 2003 and experienced a particularly rapid decline in the past 12 months. Trend Tracker estimates that around 1.78m new cars will be sold in 2009, which is down 31% from the peak in 2003. This estimation is still more confident than the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders which is estimating a 1.76m new car market this year.

As a consequence, the ratio of used to new car sales in the UK has moved from 2.9:1 in 1999 to a forecast 3.8:1 in full-year 2009.

Rising used car values

Average used car values have continued to rise for the past several months as stocks reduced. According to some estimates, as many as a quarter of businesses operating fleets have lately been holding on to company cars for an extra year before replacing them.

European factories have been cutting the over-production of new cars, removing nearly-new pre-registered stock from the used market.

What good late-plate used stock has been available has been snapped up by franchised dealers, whose falling new car sales brought a dearth of part-exchanges and drove them to frequent the auctions where, until this past year, they had more often been sellers than buyers.

According to Trend Tracker’s report, 2009 is expected to see average used car values reach £5,600, 17% higher than in 1999. With this increase in average selling price, and the increase in used car sales volumes since 1999, the value of the entire used car market has increased from £30.5 billion in 1999 to an estimated £38.1 billion in 2009 – an increase of 25%.

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