New car sales in UK slumped by 30%

Mike Hawes

New car sales in UK fell by nearly 30% last year in their biggest annual drop since 1943. According to the industry, lockdowns aimed to curb the spread of the coronavirus, hit the sector, Reuters reported.

Data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) shows that demand stood at 1.63 million cars in 2020. It was particularly hard hit by a 97% fall in April, the first full month of a national lockdown. Dealerships gradually reopened in June on different dates across the United Kingdom’s four nations.

“We lost nearly three quarters of a million units over three or four months, which we never got back,” said SMMT Chief Executive Mike Hawes.

Showrooms in England were closed again during a second lockdown in November but many were better prepared with “click and collect” options, allowing more purchases, but still leading to a 27% year-on-year slump.

The performance leaves new car sales at their lowest level since 1992, and suffering the biggest drop since 1943, when sales fell by more than 90%. Then, Britain was fighting World War Two and industry was repurposed for the effort.

In 2020, diesel car registrations more than halved, while nearly 30% of sales were electric, hybrid and mild hybrid vehicles as Britain brought forward a ban on the sale of new combustion engine-only cars to 2030.

The sector was also awaiting a trade deal with the European Union. An agreement was reached on Dec. 24, meaning immediate tariffs and disruption were avoided, but the sector has warned of additional costs.

The car sector, like others, now faces the challenge of new lockdowns announced in England and Scotland this week.

The SMMT expects sales to be below 2 million this year, with the sector nervously looking ahead to March, one of the top two selling months of the year due to the change in the licence plate series.

Similar articles

  • World food prices slump for first time in a year

    World food prices slump for first time in a year

    United Nations food agency (FAO) announced that world food prices posted in June their first fall in 12 months. The decline in prices was largely driven by cheaper vegetable oils in addition to cheaper cereals and dairy products, Reuters elaborated. FAO also said that worldwide harvests of cereals would result in almost nearly 2.817bn tonnes in 2021. That estimate is slightly weaker than previously forecast, but still on course to hit an annual record.

    43
  • UK aims to join Asia-Pacific free trade accord

    UK aims to join Asia-Pacific free trade accord

    The United Kingdom plans to launch negotiations to join the Asia-Pacific free trade pact, BBC reported. Those intentions are targeted to secure to businesses from Britain to "some of the biggest economies of the present and future", the government said. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) consists of 11 countries and includes Australia, Canada and Japan. Membership in the pact would result in reduction of tariffs on exports such as cars and whisky.

    91