Demand for zero emission and hybrid electric cars is rising in the used market, according to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

During the first quarter of the year, demand for zero emission electric cars rose by 33.8%, with demand for hybrids increasing by 14.1%. Altogether they represent 1.2% of all used car transactions, with petrol-fuelled and diesel models taking 55.9% and 42.8% market share respectively.

Although the used car market in Britain enjoyed a solid start to the year with 2,031,661 vehicles changing hands, there was a year-on-year decline of 4.8% (102,295 units) compared to Q1 2017.

Demand for petrol engine cars fell by 9.7%, while diesel registrations increased 2%. Notably, interest in alternatively-fuelled vehicles grew by 15.9%, with 29,697 hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric cars registered during this period.

While superminis remained the most popular body type during Q1 2018 (followed by lower and upper medium), dual purpose models saw the largest growth in demand, increasing 12.8%.

SMMT chief executive, Mike Hawes, said: “Despite the overall decline in demand, the UK’s used car sector remains at a very high level and it’s great to see millions of consumers benefitting from some of the latest, safest and cleanest models now filtering into the market.

“To maintain this choice and make the fastest possible improvements to air quality, we need stability in the new car market. That means giving consumers confidence to trade in their older cars for the best new, low emission model to suit their needs – whatever the fuel type.”