The number of used cars sold in the UK in the first quarter of 2024 rose by 6.5% year-on-year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

It said the number of transactions, at 1.96 million, was the highest seen during Q1 since 2019.

The SMMT said the fifth successive quarter of used market growth reflected recovering supply in the new car market, which in turn was improving availability and choice of second-hand models.

Sales of used EVs saw year-on-year growth of 71% during the quarter, reaching a new record market share of 2.1%. There was also a 42.5% rise in sales of used plug-in hybrids, and a 49.3% rise for conventional hybrids.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: “A reinvigorated new car market is delivering more choice and affordability for used car buyers and, increasingly, they are choosing to go electric. 

“To enable even more drivers to enjoy the benefits of zero emission motoring, ensuring both supply and demand remains robust is essential.

“Incentivising new EV uptake and investing in a chargepoint network that is accessible, available and affordable to all will drive the nation’s net zero transition.”

Reacting to the figures, KPMG UK head of automotive Richard Peberdy said: “The UK used car market remains healthy and stock volumes are being boosted by fleets selling vehicles into the market, having updated their inventory.  Consumers are seeing a wider range of vehicle choices than in recent years, albeit still below pre-pandemic volumes.

“After years of being inflated due to supply disruption, many models are seeing prices falling back as increased stock enters the used market and adjusts the supply and demand curve. 

“Some of the largest price corrections are being seen in the used electric market – where price normalisation is occurring as the market evolves from its infancy.”

Cox Automotive insight director Philip Nothard said: “This is the best start to a year since 2019 and propels the second-hand market to a five-year high. More importantly, it surpasses the 2001-2019 average by 4.8%, painting a promising picture for the remainder of the year.

“This positive momentum signals the used sector’s continued recovery, is a testament to the industry’s resilience and is particularly noteworthy in the context of the new car market’s ongoing challenges. It also gives us reasons to be optimistic regarding used EV adoption.

“As the economy continues to improve, these trends are expected to gain further traction. The anticipated return to a ‘push’ new car market is poised to further bolster the flow of used cars through the system, adding to the overall optimism within the used sector.”