The UK new car market again saw a decline last month as registrations in November fell -27.4% year-on-year, or 42,840 units, according to the latest figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
In a month when showrooms across England had to close due to new lockdown restrictions, the industry recorded 113,781 new registrations, taking trade back to levels last seen during the 2008 recession.
The decline was less severe than that seen during the first lockdown – when registrations fell by a record -97.3% in April alone – largely because this time around, retailers and manufacturers were able to be better prepared to fulfil orders via delivery or click and collect. Despite these innovations, private demand still fell by -32.2% while registrations by large fleets saw a decline of -22.1%
More positively, market share for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) continued to grow significantly, up 122.4% and 76.9% respectively. BEVs recorded their third highest ever monthly share of registrations at 9.1%, while PHEV share increased to 6.8% – a combined total of more than 18,000 new zero-emission capable cars joining Britain’s roads.
Given the huge contribution that Covid-secure showrooms make to the economy and a national recovery, reopening dealerships across most of the UK will help protect jobs in retail and manufacturing and should help stimulate spending. The sector has lost 663,761 units to date in 2020, which means that around 31,000 cars would need to be registered every working day in December if the market was to achieve the level expected at the start of the year.
Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Compared with the spring lockdown, manufacturers, dealers and consumers were all better prepared to adjust to constrained trading conditions. But with £1.3 billion worth of new car revenue lost in November alone, the importance of showroom trading to the UK economy is evident and we must ensure they remain open in any future Covid restrictions. More positively, with a vaccine now approved, the business and consumer confidence on which this sector depends can only improve, giving the industry more optimism for the turn of the year.”