RAC Cars News


The £38 Billion UK Used Car Market!

By raccars Published

The British used car industry in 2012 was worth an incredible £38.1 billion, new figures have revealed – meaning Britain’s used cars are collectively worth nearly £6 billion MORE than the new cars sold in 2012!

Used car auction house BCA has revealed the staggering statistic as part of its annual Used Car Market Report. This shows that Britain remains a country in love with the used car, buying 7.1 million of them in 2012 (compared to around 2.2 million new cars).

The key driver for this is price: 64 per cent of buyers say it is the main factor they use in searching for a used car – far more than the next most important reason, brand, which is a priority for 39 per cent of people.

British motorists are also very satisfied with their used cars: 71 per cent of motorists are very satisfied, with a further 24 per cent saying they’re quite satisfied. Overall, then 95 per cent of buyers were satisfied with their used car purchases!

Satisfaction rises in line with purchase price, says BCA: it reaches 97 per cent for buyers of cars priced £5000-£15,000 – and actually hits 100 per cent for cars costing more than £20,000.

The economic recovery is also helping the used car market. “There was a significant rise in the number of car owners who said they will ‘certainly’ or ‘quite likely’ buy a car in the next 12 months,’ said BCA’s Tim Naylor.

“The number of motorists who think there is a 50:50 chance they will be in the market for a car rose one point for the second year running” – meaning that 1 in 10 Brits will strongly consider buying a car in the next year.

So that’s the mood of Britain’s used car buyers – but what are the headline statistics, and how do individual categories break down? RAC Cars has crunched the numbers and analysed the report – read on to find out more…

Top 5 used car market facts

  • £38.1 billion: the total value of the used car market in Britain last year.

  • 7.4 million: the number of used cars sold in Britain last year. This is a 10-year high.

  • 7.59 years: the average age of a car on Britain’s roads. This is a 30-year high – and slow sales of new cars over recent years means the British car fleet will continue to age.

  • 7%: the number of cars on Britain’s roads aged 15 years or older. As new car quality continues to improve, this will only grow. Already, more than half of all cars built see their 14th birthday on British roads.

  • 81.8%: the number of cars aged 0-8 years sold by dealers.

Market makeup: RAC Cars crunches the used car market data

Cars aged 0-2 years

Size of market: 10.7%

Nearly new cars make up the smallest part of the used car market – but this share is growing because new car sales have slowly started to pick up over the past couple of years, after reaching a 17-year low in 2011.

Dealers sell nearly all the cars in this sector of the market, although private sales did grow by 40,000 units in 2012, meaning they account for 13.2 per cent of overall sales.

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Cars aged 3-5 years

Size of market: 25.7%

This is another sector of the market that grew. In this case, it is a greater number of trade-ins from new car buyers that is helping fuel the growth – the new car sales recovery in 2012 helped dealers restock.

Indeed, dealer sales in this sector grew 3.5 per cent in 2012, meaning they sell 80.3 per cent of all cars aged three to five years old.

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Cars aged 6-8 years

Size of market: 28%

Cars aged 6-8 years old have reached an all-time high in the UK. They account for 28 per cent of the market and the growth of this figure is down to the fact the used car parc is ageing.

This sector of the market is expected to grow further over the next couple of years as the effect of the scrappage scheme new car sales bubble reaches the used car market.

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Cars aged 9+ years

Size of market: 35.2%

Although Britain’s cars overall are ageing, models aged nine years plus are falling. They still account for the majority of cars on our road but the total is 2.2 per cent lower than it was last year.

This is perhaps due to the recession making it uneconomic to run an older car: with fuel costs, road tax costs and other potentially expensive bills, some may find it actually saves them money to take advantage of strong new car deals and trade up.

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