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Second-hand electric vehicle sales soar to record levels

Sales of second-hand electric vehicles (EV) rose by more than 80% in the three months to June, indicating increasing demand for more affordable zero and low-emission cars.

More than 30,500 of the battery-powered vehicles changed hands in the second quarter this year, an 81.8% rise on the same period last year.

Those sales accounted for just 1.7% of the total second-hand market, which while a record for the sector, demonstrates the scale of the adjustment required in the UK’s vehicle fleet before a ban on new internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles in 2030.

Low-emission plug-in and hybrid vehicles are also growing in popularity in the used market, with sales up 11% and 30% respectively, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

The market share of petrol and diesel vehicles fell as a result of the growth in electric car sales, but still accounted for almost 95% of 1.8m used vehicles sold in the quarter.

Boosting the second-hand market is crucial to increasing the reach and affordability of electric vehicles, which are still significantly more expensive to buy than ICE models.

Second-hand EV prices have been dropping in the last year however, with data company Cap hpi estimating a 35% fall in 12 months.

The EV market has expanded rapidly in recent years, with more than 260,000 new electric cars registered last year, up from 15,000 in 2018. But concerns over price, vehicle range and the resilience of the charging network and power grid remain.

Banning new petrol and diesel cars is a Conservative government policy first announced by Theresa May in 2017, when she set a deadline of 2040.

Four years later Boris Johnson brought it forward a decade to 2030, and the government has provided hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer funding to support vehicle battery production, at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, and most recently around £400m to Jaguar Land Rover’s owner Tata to support a gigafactory in Bridgwater, Somerset.

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The issue has gained political traction in recent weeks however as Conservative MPs have voiced concerns about the cost to consumers, backed by newspaper campaigns in the Sun and Daily Mail in support of a delay.

Downing Street has said the prime minister remains committed to the 2030 ban, despite cooling on Net Zero policies since opposition to the expansion of London’s Ultra Low Emission Zone helped the Conservatives retain Uxbridge in a by-election last month.

Under the scheme, owners of low-emission vehicles, including many petrol and diesel models, are exempt from a daily charge for driving in greater London.

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Objections to London mayor Sadiq Khan’s expansion of the scheme, first proposed by Mr Johnson, helped limit the swing to Labour to just 6%, enabling the Conservative candidate to win by fewer than 500 votes.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “It’s great to see a recharged new car sector supporting demand for used cars and, in particular, helping more people to get behind the wheel of an electric vehicle.

“Meeting the undoubted appetite for pre-owned EVs will depend on sustaining a buoyant new car market and on the provision of accessible, reliable charging infrastructure powered by affordable, green energy.

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“This, in turn, will allow more people to drive zero at a price point suited to them, helping accelerate delivery of our environmental goals.”

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