New registrations fell to their lowest level in half a century as lockdown measures and the forced closure of showrooms suppressed demand, the auto industry’s trade organization said on Thursday.
Sales were down 39.5 percent year-over-year to 90,249 – the lowest since 1970, according to data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
Industry insiders said the nearly 40 percent drop was as good as expected, with England and Scotland under the toughest lockdown restrictions as of Jan. 5 – and the success of “click and collect” services shows that there are still many appetites new models.
And one of those cars that is in high demand during the lockdown is the Vauxhall Corsa. The manufacturer’s latest supermini has overtaken the Ford Fiesta – the UK’s best seller for 12 years – and became the best-selling engine in 2021.
The recent coronavirus lockdown has dampened demand for new car sales at the beginning of 2021 and is likely to continue to limit vehicle purchases in February
While sales of gasoline vehicles fell by 50 percent to diesel by more than 60 percent, sales of hybrid and electric cars rose annually.
Car showrooms have had to close their doors to the public since the beginning of the year, which would always limit vehicle sales in January.
The 90,000 new models that have been bought so far in 2021 were mostly bought online or over the phone and picked up outdoors from dealers in a socially distant manner.
This is the new reality for those in vehicle sales during the pandemic and is expected to be the case through February.
The industry now hopes that customers will be allowed back into the showrooms from March. This is also one of the top two auto sales months of the year – and makes, on average, one in five new registrations for the year change in license plate series.
The industry is now nervously hoping for a rebound from March when showrooms may reopen and consumers who have saved during the pandemic try to loosen their wallets
Andrew Burn, head of automotive at KPMG, said March was the “most critical test for the sector” as it will be the first time during the pandemic that a ban lasts that long in a month of plate changing.
“There would have been orders in the system in March 2020 before the lock, so it’s very likely that this base order level won’t be at the same level this quarter,” he said.
The SMMT urges MPs to allow car dealerships to open as soon as it is safe and states that this will “help restore consumer confidence, promote jobs and achieve an environmentally friendly recovery”.
Mike Hawes, the chief executive of the trade organization, said, “The necessary lockdown will challenge society, the economy and the ability of our industry to work quickly towards our ambitious environmental goals.”
He added, “Any day that showrooms are safe to open will matter, especially as the critical month of March approaches.”
Sue Robinson of the National Franchised Dealers Association said retailers are “optimistic about the coming year, provided dealers can reopen as soon as it is safe” and that some consumers are holding back their vehicle purchases due to current restrictions’.
She added, “Showrooms have spacious areas and dealers can work by appointment to ensure the safety of customers and employees.”
The 90,249 new cars registered last month are the lowest in January in half a century, the SMMT confirmed this morning
Registrations were consistently declining, with the influential fleet sector posting a decline of nearly 40% year over year
The NFDA’s positive outlook for 2021 was reiterated by Karen Johnson, Head of Retail at Barclays Corporate Banking. She said sellers expect consumers who “have built up savings during the pandemic to re-commit to big ticket purchases like a new car”. .
The SMMT said the impact of the current lockdown needed to be factored in to its full year market outlook.
After more than two million new vehicle registrations were originally expected for 2021, this forecast has now been downgraded to below 1.9 million as performance was more negatively impacted in the first quarter and especially in March.
Despite the downgrade, the forecast means an increase of 15.7 percent compared to the “lost year” 2020. In view of the 10-year average market for new cars up to 2019 of 2.3 million registrations, this would still be historically a “very subdued market “.
Corsa will take over the sales management early in 2021
With 3,078 registrations in January, the youngest Vauxhall Corsa 2021 has taken the lead early on from its biggest rival, the Ford Fiesta.
The Ford has been the UK’s top-selling new model for 12 years, although sales of the new Corsa were higher towards the end of 2020.
The Fiesta was sold not only by the Corsa but also by the Kia Sportage and the UK-built Nissan Qashqai.
A new version of the latter is expected to be unveiled this month – and for the first time there will also be a Qashqai e-Power hybrid version.
With over 3,000 new registrations, the new Vauxhall Corsa (right) took an early lead in sales in 2021. Ford’s Fiesta – the UK’s best-selling car for 12 years – cut the order to 4th in January, also from the Kia Sportage and Nissan Qashqai
The sale of electric cars continues to be the light of day
Models that run exclusively on electricity – so-called battery electric vehicles (BEV) – recorded a sales increase of 54.4 percent, with 2,206 vehicles being registered in January.
That means nearly 7 percent of all new cars bought last month were electric – nearly 14 percent if you add plug-in hybrids to the equation.
Korean automaker Kia said every sixth model sold in the UK last month is electric – the largest proportion of zero-emission vehicle transactions ever recorded.
With just over 11,000 registrations, January 2021 was the worst month for diesel sales since dealers were allowed to start selling cars again in June 2020
Kia said 1 in 6 new cars sold in January were electric models, like the e-Niro SUV pictured
The ongoing growth in low-emission vehicles continues to lead to a significant decrease in average CO2 emissions from cars, according to SMMT.
Combined with the continuous improvements in gasoline and diesel engines, the vehicles’ average CO2 dropped to 112.8 g / km in January – a decrease of 11.8 percent compared to 2019 and 37.7 percent compared to 2000.
That’s not to say that last month was a good month for gasoline and diesel cars – on the contrary.
The fuel types recorded corresponding losses of 62.1 percent and 50.6 percent in January 2021.
With just 11,083 diesel registrations, the RAC points out that it has been the worst month for diesel sales since dealerships were allowed to reopen in June 2020.
“It remains to be seen what the rest of 2021 will mean for the driver’s appetite for diesel and whether the numbers sold will ever return to pre-Covid levels,” said spokesman Rod Dennis.
The decline in gasoline and diesel sales and the record intake of electric vehicles have resulted in a decrease in the average CO2 emissions of new models over the past year
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