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Demand for used electric cars grows

Second-hand EV sales double in last quarter, so what’s driving used demand as new electric sales falter?

BMW i3 - front tracking

A spike in demand for used EVs has been reported by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, which says the number of pre-owned battery electric vehicles (BEVs) changing hands doubled in the third quarter of this year.

A rise of 99.9 per cent in used EV sales mean battery-electric cars have now reached a record 1.8-per cent share of the second-hand market, in part thanks to prices that have fallen due to the increasing availability of company-owned electric cars being ‘de-fleeted’. A recent report by online car retailer Auto Trader said the average price of a used BEV was around £32,000 at the end of October, with used prices for electric models appearing to stabilise at around 20 per cent below the levels recorded this time last year. Relatively cheap used-EV options range from three-year-old Renault Zoes, which are now undercutting similarly aged petrol Clios by around £500, and three-year-old Jaguar I-Pace EVs that undercut internal-combustion powered F-Pace models by almost £4,000, according to recent Auto Trader figures. 

With around 750,000 EVs sold into the fleet market in the past three years now fuelling a used-EV sales mini-boom, the government’s approach of stimulating company BEV sales through large benefit-in-kind tax discounts for company drivers appears to be being vindicated as the fastest way to reduce the UK’s tailpipe emisssions.

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However the SMMT also continues to push for a new package of incentives for private buyers of new electric cars, as its data shows consumer interest in pricey new models is actually reducing as a percentage of market share. Latest new-car sales figures, also provided by the SMMT, show BEV sales are now running at 15.6 per cent of the total new-car market, a small decrease on the previous month, while private sales account for fewer than one in four electric-car purchases.

With the government and car industry committed to a target of 22-per cent market share for BEV sales under the new Zero Emissions Vehicle mandate effective from January, the numbers are troubling. "The used-car market continues to grow strongly, with re-energised supply unlocking demand for pre-owned electric vehicles – the result being twice as many motorists switching to zero-emission motoring in the quarter,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “Maintaining this momentum requires growth in the new-car market, to boost supply to the used sector and cement this success. Equally important is the urgent need for charging infrastructure rollout so that all drivers can have confidence in being able to charge whenever and wherever they need.

“The Autumn Statement is a key opportunity for government to introduce incentives and facilitate infrastructure investment. Doing so would send a clear signal of support for drivers, reassuring them that now is the time to switch to electric.”

Click here for our list of the best used electric cars...

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Current affairs and features editor

Chris covers all aspects of motoring life for Auto Express. Over a long career he has contributed news and car reviews to brands such as Autocar, WhatCar?, PistonHeads, Goodwood and The Motor Trader.

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