The Coronavirus Pandemic has had a dramatic effect on car sales. Should we be surprised? Not in the slightest - car dealerships in the UK were closed to customers throughout April.
Even so, the raw figures look pretty shocking on paper. In April, just 4321 cars were registered in the UK, the SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) reports, down from 161,064 in April 2019. This amounts to a 97 per cent reduction.
The plummet in sales has also given us a bizarre top 10 list of best sellers. This isn’t something we usually report on, because it just isn’t interesting under normal circumstances - the predictable chart is usually dominated by the likes of the VW Golf, Ford Fiesta and Nissan Qashqai. However, in April, only two of 2020’s year-to-date top 10 sellers appeared in the list - the Mercedes A-Class and the Vauxhall Corsa.
Heading the list was Model 3, aided by Tesla’s long-standing online sales focus. Lagging in second with a little over half the Model 3’s sales was another electric car - the Jaguar I-Pace. Sales of the pair helped the market share of BEVs leap from 0.9 per cent in April 2019 to 31.88 in 2020, seven per cent higher than diesel’s share and not far behind petrol. The sector experienced the smallest drop, too, with a 9.7 per cent fall compared to well over 90 for every other powertrain type.
I-Pace sales helped Jaguar shift more cars than Mercedes and Audi combined (usually the British brand is a long way behind both), and finally, we have the appearance of the Peugeot Rifter as the UK’s fifth best selling car in April. A vehicle most of you will have to Google because you probably have no clue what it is.
Speaking about the massive decrease in car sales, SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes 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.”