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Record Used Car Sales in 2016 in UK


 Record Used Car Sales in 2016 in UK

The number of used cars sold in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland hit a new yearly high in 2016.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which represents most of the biggest firms selling both new and used cars, did a massive number-crunching exercise at the start of this year to identify the biggest trends in used car sales throughout the past year, and came up with the following fascinating facts:

Total number of used cars sold in the UK in 2016:

8.2 million


7.3 per cent

more than during 2015

Best selling used car in the UK over the year:

Ford Fiesta

Ford’s small car just beat its stablemate, the Focus, to the crown - but there were less than 7,000 sales between the top two, and between them, they accounted for more than


of the total sales of used cars

The British-built Astra was


on the list

Wales accounted for the 10th highest number of sales of all the UK’s regions, at


That’s just over half the figure recorded in the neighbouring north-west of England.

The most popular colours of used car sold in the year were:


  1. Black
  2. Blue
  3. Grey
  4. Red
  5. White
  6. Green
  7. Beige/Buff
  8. Yellow
  9. Brown

Sales in the city car category (e.g. Volkswagen Up!, Skoda Citigo, Peugeot 107), rose by


But that growth was put in the shade by the rise in sales for SUVs (e.g. Skoda Yeti, Kia Sportage and Volkswagen Tiguan), which were up by nearly


April and October were the two busiest months for the used car market - reflecting the change to bi-annual registration plate switches, which now take place in March and September.

It’s therefore unsurprising that dealers right across the spectrum have the widest selection of used cars on offer around the time these record figures were posted, and customers now realise this, so make these two months the time when they head out to shop for a used car.

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “It’s good news that our used car market is in such good health. Strong demand is testament to the quality, reliability and appeal of cars on sale today, with used buyers enjoying more choice, more low emission, safety and connected technology than ever.”

What’s Driving Used Car Sales?

More choice than ever 

According to the website, there are 30 major, mass-market car brands active in the UK market as of the end of 2016. While many of these, like Volkswagen, Audi and Skoda, and Peugeot and Citroen (soon to be joined by Vauxhall), are part of massive, multi-national conglomerates, there are also plenty of companies which are managing to carve out niches for themselves, on the basis of being able to make their products stand out for a variety of reasons. Think Kia, with its seven-year warranty, which means many buyers now associate the make with cars which are built to last. As a result, the market for used Kia models is now very competitive, and its Sportage was rated by Auto Express as “a hugely enticing package in an overcrowded sector [with] striking looks, generous levels of kit, plus strong practicality and affordability.”

 Used car specialists fighting hard to improve their image

The distinction between many franchised new car dealers and specialists in supplying a variety of makes of used cars has narrowed, as buyers become more aware of the relative and distinct merits of buying from each of them. In terms of looks, you can often be hard-pushed to tell the difference between a dealership which sells exclusively used cars, and those which offer a mix of new and used models. The service you’ll get from many used car specialists, too, has changed almost beyond recognition - many, including ourselves, of course - now offer benefits such as:

  • Extended warranties which offer the widest scope of cover you’ll find anywhere, and take much of the worry out of buying a used car
  • A range of car financing options beyond the traditional hire purchase (HP) which can make trading up to the car you really want more affordable
  • Premises which really are well looked-after, are a pleasure to visit and browse around, and make it easy for buyers to find what they’re looking for, and
  • Staff who aren’t just driven by figures, but are committed to finding the right car for each customer, and then building a long-standing, trusting relationship by being willing to ‘go the extra mile’ with help for you in keeping your car running well and protecting its looks, reliability and value.

 More financing options

The amount of car finance taken out with used car outlets at ‘point of sale’ was up by 12 per cent year-on-year in 2016, according to the Finance and Leasing Association.

This means that the people running used car dealers have realised that they need to be just as flexible and offer as much choice over options for helping people finance a used car purchase as they do for those buying a new car.

If you look at the details of all the cars available on our stocklist, you’ll see that we give you a monthly payment figure for hire purchase - the traditional way to buy a car which means you own the vehicle outright at the end of the agreement period - and for a personal contract purchase (PCP). This newer, and increasingly popular, way of financing a car purchase can lower the amount of your initial payment, and in effect, works by you financing the cost of the depreciation of the car during the time you own it. It’s effectively a long-term hire agreement - you have full use of the car, of course, but agree to stick within a mileage limit set out when you take out the agreement, and to get the car serviced according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, but you don’t actually own the car. When your agreement ends, you can pay a final lump sum - often called a ‘balloon payment’ - and take outright ownership of the car; simply hand the car back and start another PCP agreement, provided you’ve met all the requirements on mileage limits and having the car properly serviced; or use the equity you’ve built up in the car as a deposit towards another vehicle.

This method of vehicle funding is already by far the most popular for new cars, and is fast gaining ground for used car buyers too. The big reason why it’s so popular is because there’s so much more information available now which helps manufacturers and dealers work out the expected value of their cars at any point in the future. Armed with more certainty over this, they can effectively let buyers make payments designed merely to meet this depreciation, while also having some certainty over the car’s value at the end of the agreement term. And as a customer, the lower monthly payment is, of course, a big attraction, along with the flexibility to change your car more regularly without necessarily having to wait until the end of your agreement period.

 Cars are lasting longer than ever 

If manufacturers are happy to offer warranties on their new cars for three, five and even seven years, it shows that they’re confident that their vehicles will comfortably last these lengths of time.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders’ figures show that the average car lasts 13.9 years. There’s also been an appreciable increase in the average age of cars on the UK’s roads, from 6.8 years in 2003 to 7.8 recorded in 2015.

Downsides to this, says the SMMT, include a slower uptake of ‘greener’ vehicles which would contribute significantly towards improving air quality, and older cars lacking more sophisticated, state-of-the-art occupant and pedestrian safety features. But that said, we’ve also seen standards required in the MoT test become increasingly stringent, particularly when it comes to the levels of pollution which they create. While it wasn’t until 1991 for petrol cars and 1994 for diesels that the MoT covered emissions, about one in 10 MoT failures today is caused by this.

With the average car now lasting into its ‘teenage’ years, it stands to reason that most will change hands more often during their lifetime.

As a result, we now have a much bigger and more varied used car market than at any other time. That’s great news for anyone who’s looking for their ideal used car, as it means more places to look, more cars to choose from, and a supply chain which has become increasingly sophisticated in recent times.

As the saying goes, it’s a buyer’s market, which is great news if you’re one of those buyers who have their pick from a more varied and exciting selection of used cars than ever before. And with that situation unlikely to change, it means respected and well-established used car specialists, such as us here at Philip Paul, are continually looking to up our game, as we know that ultimately, as the customer, the real power is in your hands.


Is the amount of choice of used cars in Oswestry a good thing? And do you enjoy having lots of cars to choose from when you’re in the market? Let us know via our Facebook page - and check out the excellent reviews we’ve had from our customers while you’re there!