COMMERCIAL FEATURE: According to a recent Experian survey, the volume of used car sales this year has reached a three-year high, with over 1.7 million units sold between January and March.

Experian has published its Used Car Index for 2012, revealing that 1,741,860 used cars were sold in the first quarter of this year. Reaching a three-year high since 2009 – when 1,813,588 units were sold in the same period between January and March – the sales indicate an increase in the popularity of second-hand cars.

The survey included a 14.7 per cent increase compared with last quarter, which showed just 0.2 per cent increase compared with the same quarter in 2011. This is in keeping with the “new year/ new car” buying mentality that intersects with dealers offering special deals on excess stock.

Readers can find used cars on Gumtree by filling in their desired make and model and browsing the listings.

All used car segments experienced an increase in sales compared with the previous quarter, with the exception of 4x4 vehicles, which include the previously top-selling Range Rover Sport and BMW X5. 4x4s saw a 1.3 per cent reduction in sales, compared with what was relatively healthy growth, or a 6.43 per cent increase, in the first quarter of 2011.

The biggest increase was in multi-purpose vehicles or MPVs, which saw a sales rise of 26.7 per cent or 103,415 units, with the Vauxhall Zafira and Renault Scenic among the best sellers in this segment.

One of the biggest and perhaps surprising increases – considering many drivers hesitate to “go green” due perhaps to limited battery life and a lack of fast-charging connectors – is the electric and hybrid cars, which saw a year-on-year increase of 29 per cent and a quarterly increase of 19.2 per cent.

Lower medium cars performed the most successfully: the overall winner for the first quarter of 2012 is the Ford Focus, which sold 78,812 units, followed by the Vauxhall Corsa, which sold 76,119 units in the first four months of this year.

A spokesman for Experian commented that the sales increase in high-performing categories (such as the BMW 3 Series, Volkswagen Golf and Ford Mondeo Estate) is a positive beginning to this year. The wider availability of alternative-fuelled cars means environmentally motivated buyers have increased access to used electric and hybrid vehicles.