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Second-hand car interest now outstripping pre-coronavirus levels

More searches are being carried out than in the weeks preceding the lockdown

AA PLC -
Electric cars and Fiat 500s are especially popular on the AA website

Searches for second-hands cars have rebounded past pre-lockdown levels, according to research by the AA Cars.

Car dealerships reopened on June 1 and searches on the AA Cars website jumped by 9.1% in the week following compared to the first of March, said the motoring organisation.

The AA added the surge in demand had led to more searches being carried out than in the weeks preceding the lockdown.

The Ford Fiesta was the most searched for vehicle, followed by the Mini, Mercedes and electric vehicles in fourth even though EVs did not feature in searches in April and May.

James Fairclough, AA Car’s chief executive, said the uptick in searches was a very encouraging sign for the industry, while the interest in electric vehicles might reflect a growing appreciation of lower pollution and noise during the lockdown.

Used car sales fell by 8.3% in the first quarter of 2020, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, even with strong performances in January and February.

Online seller Motorway, meanwhile, said it had sold £1mln of used cars daily on average since it resumed trading on 11 May.

Sales last week totalled £4.9mln it said, with £1.39mln in sales on 10 June alone.

Motorway, which matches car buyers and sellers on its platform, added it was taking on additional staff to help cope with the surge in interest.

Tom Leathes, the chief executive, said: “We have been growing rapidly for the past twelve months as the automotive market continues its shift online.

“The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated that trend, and we’re now seeing unprecedented demand for our service, from car sellers and dealers alike.

“Unlike many other industries, the used car market is now looking stronger than it has been for months “

Anthony Coombs, chairman of car finance specialist S&U PLC (LON:SUS), also said business had started to pick up recently.

Coombs said new loans dropped by 15% during the lockdown period at Advantage, S&U’s second-hand car operation, as people weren’t able to visit showrooms or even get a car delivered.

But there has been a notable recovery in recent weeks, he added.

AA shares rose 4.7% to 27,6p, while S&U improved 2.7% to 1,720p. 

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