05.05.2020

New car sales fall 97% in April, SMMT downgrades 2020 forecast

New car registrations declined -97.3% in April to 4,321 units, according to figures from the SMMT. It was the lowest figure since 1946.

The decline was the steepest of modern times, and is in line with similar falls across Europe, with France -88.8% down and the Italian market falling -97.5% in April.

Fleet orders represented by far the bulk of the market, taking 71.5% market share, equivalent to 3,090 units, while private buyers registered just 871 cars – a year on year fall of –98.7%.

The news comes as SMMT releases its latest new car market forecast for 2020, downgrading previous expectations to just 1.68 million registrations.

This puts the sector on course to record its worst performance since 1992’s 1.59 million units.

This is below the levels seen during the financial crisis and some -27% lower than the 2.31 million new cars registered in 2019.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, “With the UK’s showrooms closed for the whole of April, the market’s worst performance in living memory is hardly surprising.

“These figures, however, still make for exceptionally grim reading, not least for the hundreds of thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on the sector. A strong new car market supports a healthy economy and as Britain starts to plan for recovery, we need car retail to be in the vanguard.

“Safely restarting this most critical sector and revitalising what will, inevitably, be subdued demand will be key to unlocking manufacturing and accelerating the UK’s economic regeneration.”

[source: Motor Trader online]