UK car sales plummet in November on lockdown hit, says SMMT

04 Dec 2020

New car sales in the UK declined by nearly a third last month due to the impact from the lockdown in England.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) published on Friday show registrations dropped 27.4% to 113,781 year-on-year. 

The trade body added that the fall had seen trade revert to levels last seen during the 2008 financial crisis.

Figures had been forecast to drop by a third, according to a Car Dealer report, and the SMMT stated that decline wasn’t as severe as during the initial coronavirus lockdown throughout the country, when sales fell 97.3% in April and 89% in May.

The SMMT added that this time retailers and manufacturers were better prepared to meet orders through delivery or click-and-collect.

That said, private demand still declined by 32.2% and registrations by large fleets were down 22.1%.

Moreover, the market share for battery-electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) continued to enjoy substantial growth, up 122.4% and 76.9% respectively.

BEVs registered their third highest monthly share of registrations on record at 9.1%, whilst PHEV share rose to 6.8% - resulting in a total of over 18,000 new zero-emission capable cars on the UK’s roads.

According to Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive: “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.”