Second-hand cars in Spain hinder the path to decarbonisation

Mariordo (Mario Roberto Durán Ortiz), CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

The popularity of second-hand cars in Spain makes the decarbonisation of the sector more difficult.

In Spain, many second-hand cars are given much longer lifespans as they are passed from one individual to another. The most immediate consequence of this is the very high level of emissions released into the atmosphere due to the low energy efficiency of engines that were manufactured years ago. The difference in the amounts of emissions produced by a car made ten years ago and one manufactured two or three years ago is enormous, according to experts.

The boom in the sale of second-hand cars, especially those over 15 years old, complicates the objective of reducing emissions from vehicles. Experts say that it also highlights the need for a plan for their removal from circulation.

According to industry data, 859,477 passenger cars and SUVs were registered in Spain in 2021, one per cent more than in 2020. Only 66,915 (7.8 per cent) were labelled 0 (electric and plug-in hybrids) and 233,463 were labelled ECO (27.1 per cent), while the remaining 65 per cent had a traditional combustion engine.

The sale and purchase of used cars grew by nine per cent to a total of 1,989,662 transactions, of which 680,477 were vehicles over 15 years old and 509,370 were cars between 10 and 15 years old.

Together, these two categories accounted for nearly 60 per cent of the second-hand market, which means that for every new car sold in Spain, 1.4 cars over ten years old changed hands.

“The average age of second-hand vehicles sold is over 11 years old. If we look only at transactions between private individuals – more than 50 per cent of the total – the average age rises to 14.5 years,” Raúl Palacios, president of the sellers’ association Ganvam, told EFE.


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Written by

Tamsin Brown

Originally from London, Tamsin is based in Malaga and is a local reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering Spanish and international news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]