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Used car inventories drop 12% in January, as dealers face reduced part-exchanges volumes

  • Used car stock levels across all dealerships down 12% year on year
  • Days in stock averaged 44, the same as January 2019
  • Diesel demand remained steady, achieving the fewest days in stock

Dealers entered the year with significantly reduced used car inventories but maintained the same days in stock as 12 months ago, according to eBay Motors Group's latest Market View analysis.

January saw used car stock volumes averaging 58 units across dealer forecourts, compared with 66 units a year ago, a fall of 12%. December stock levels averaged 62.5 units.

"Stock levels were lean in January with a number of factors limiting supply, including a fall in part-exchange volumes following a 14% drop in private registrations in the new car market,[1]" said Dermot Kelleher, eBay Motors Group's head of marketing and research.

"Availability may have been further compounded by a fleet sector still adjusting to the introduction of last year's RDE (Real Driving Emissions) rules and some businesses holding back on vehicle replacements until new company car tax rules come into force in April."

The fall in inventory levels was mostly felt by car supermarkets who stocked 42 fewer units than in January 2019 and franchised dealers who reduced their stock by eight vehicles. While independent dealers increased their stock by one vehicle to 45 units.

Days in stock averaged 44 days, although with smaller inventories car supermarkets reduced theirs from 45 to 41.5 days. Franchised dealers achieved the same turnaround as 12 months ago at 44 days, while independents saw their average increase by one day to 45 days.

The fastest selling used car in January was the Vauxhall Antara which averaged 33.6 days, followed by the Citroen DS3 (33.9 days) and Ford Grand C-Max (35 days)

Cars priced between £20,000-£40,000 took four days longer to sell year on year at 48 days, while those priced £15,000 to £20,000 sold a day faster than last January at 46 days.

Despite the continued decline of the market for new diesels, which saw registrations fall 36% in January, demand for used models remained stable and in line with last year. Diesel was also the fastest selling of all fuel types averaging 44 days in stock. 

You can see the full January Market View report here 

[1] SMMT, Car Registrations, Jan 2020, https://www.smmt.co.uk/vehicle-data/car-registrations/