The car registration data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) for the month of March shows that the UK new car market recorded its first ‘growth’ since August 2020, with 29,280 more units registered during March compared to the same month last year. However, the month represents the anniversary of the first lockdown in March 2020, when the pandemic brought Britain to a standstill and registrations fell by -44.4 per cent.
The UK new car market declined by -35.5 per cent in February as 28,282 fewer units were registered during a traditionally weak month for new vehicle uptake, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The industry recorded its lowest February uptake since 1959, with 51,312 new cars registered.
Despite the gloomy January figures, there are signs of optimism in the UK car industry. Sue Robinson, Chief Executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers in the UK, said that the steep fall in sales was expected as a result of the January lockdown, but she went on: “Retailers are optimistic about the year ahead, provided that dealerships will be allowed to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.”
The UK new car market fell by 29.4 per cent in 2020, with annual registrations dropping to 1,631,064 units, according to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) today 6 January 2021. A -10.9 per cent decline in December topped off a turbulent year, which saw demand fall by 680,076 units to a near 30-year low (specifically, the lowest level of registrations since 1992).
The UK new car market declined -4.4 per cent in September, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). The sector recorded 328,041 new registrations in the month – the weakest September since the introduction of the dual number plate system in 1999 and some -15.8 per cent lower than the 10-year average of around 390,000 units for the month.
During the first eight months of this year, 3,481,721 fewer new cars were registered throughout the UK and the European Union than in the same period of 2019. This is, of course, unhappy news for tyre makers, who’ve thus delivered around 14 million fewer original equipment tyres to customers supplying the region. Registration figures for August don’t indicate a turnaround, either.
July was the first month since the lockdown all dealerships across the UK were able to stay open through the whole month, a fact that is reflected by the uptick in car sales, Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), said.
Commenting on SMMT’s new car registration figures for the month of July, Andrew Burn, UK head of automotive at KPMG, said: “With social distancing measures easing and dealerships finally in a position to reopen, it’s great to see pent-up demand released and car registrations picking-up again. However, as the year-to-date figures make painfully clear, total lost sales in 2020 are expected to be £20bn, so in many ways it’s a case of damage limitation. We’re still a long way off pre-Covid-19 levels of sales.
New car registrations rose for the first time this year in July. The figure rose 11.3 per cent in the month, year-on-year, according to the latest Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) figures. 174,887 cars were registered in July 2020, supported by the first full month of trading for dealerships since February. July 2019 registrations were affected by declining business and consumer confidence undermined the market. Pent-up demand and special offers led to a reprieve for the sector, but overall registrations are still down by -41.9 per cent or 598,054 units year-to-date. Despite the increase in July, SMMT’s full year outlook is for a -30 per cent decline in registrations, representing more than £20 billion of lost sales.
Following the SMMT’s June round of car registrations figures, analyst Deloitte wonders if there is cause to think a UK automotive landmark has passed. While much of the focus has been on the historic depths the country’s car sales have hit, the proportional demand for hybrid and electric vehicles has continued to rise at pace. Michael Woodward, UK automotive lead, Deloitte, said: “The automotive industry is taking positive steps towards recovery from the impact of COVID-19. Socially-distanced showrooms have been reopened in England for a full month, and factory production is ramping up again, in some cases faster than expected.
Commenting on the SMMT car registration figures, Sue Robinson, director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers in the UK, said: “Pent-up demand helped sales during the first weeks, but the market will need to be monitored closely to support the sector over the coming months”
UK new car registrations fell -34.9 per cent in June, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) as the market began a tentative restart after more than two months of lockdown. The drop was an improvement on May’s -89.0 per cent wipe-out but, with 145,377 new car registrations, this still represented a significant decline of 78,044 compared with June 2019, as dealerships in Wales and Scotland remained closed for much of the month.
Following ACEA’s latest assessment that new car sales in the European Union will fall by 25 per cent in 2020, GlobalData’s automotive analyst David Leggett, says: “In May, the European passenger car market (EU+EFTA+UK) suffered another sharp drop, with new registrations falling by 57.2 per cent on last year.
Responding to the 52.3 per cent fall in May European car registrations, the NFDA says UK showrooms are reporting “positive trading” in the two weeks since reopening. The latest figures from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) show that the decline has become less severe. In April, sales had declined by 76.3 per cent.
Although UK monthly new car registrations in April were lower than since the days of postwar petrol rationing, there is at least some optimism that the automotive industry will benefit from one aspect of the COVID-19 crisis. With social distancing and fear of contagion part of the ‘new normal’, mistrustful commuters may shun public transport in favour of private cars.