UK new car sales fall by more than 29 per cent in 2020

New car registrations in the UK dropped by 29.4 per cent in 2020, representing the toughest year for the automotive market since 1992.

The decline has been showcased by figures released today (Jan 6) by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). They reveal that overall registrations fell to 1.63 million during the year, with demand down by 680,076 vehicles over 2019.

A decline of 10.9 per cent in December rounded off an extremely turbulent 12 months for the UK’s automotive sector, as Covid-related restrictions, an acceleration to the end of sale date for petrol and diesel cars and Brexit uncertainty all hampered sales.

In total, the decline saw the industry suffer a total turnover loss of £20.4 billion.

Private demand dropped by 26.6 per cent overall, resulting in a loss of £1.9 billion in VAT to the Exchequer.

Sales of petrol and diesel cars fell by 39 and 55 per cent respectively over 2019’s figure, dropping to respective figures of 903,961 and 261,772.

However, sales of electric, plug-in hybrid and standard hybrid cars were up by 66.7 per cent on the previous year, rising to a total of 285,199. These vehicles now account for 17.5 per cent of the market.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “2020 will be seen as a ‘lost year’ for Automotive, with the sector under pandemic-enforced shutdown for much of the year and uncertainty over future trading conditions taking their toll.

“However, with the rollout of vaccines and clarity over our new relationship with the EU, we must make 2021 a year of recovery. With manufacturers bringing record numbers of electrified vehicles to market over the coming months, we will work with government to encourage drivers to make the switch, while promoting investment in our globally-renowned manufacturing base – recharging the market, industry and economy.”