In March, showrooms and dealers across the country were closed by the Government in an effort to slow the spread of the Covid-19 virus. With only 20,247 vehicle registrations in May – a drop of 163,477 from the previous year – just 24,568 new vehicles have been registered in the UK since dealers closed their doors.
The May figures represent only a moderate increase from April, which saw 4321 new cars registered. The rise was said to be down to buyers using new ‘click and collect’ services that manufacturers introduced to comply with social restriction guidelines.
On June 1, the Government permitted showrooms and dealerships to reopen as long as they adhered to strict hygiene and social distancing guidelines set by Public Health England. What Car?’s market research suggests pent-up demand will see registrations rise in June.
Commenting on the SMMT figures, What Car? Editorial Director, Jim Holder, said: “With another month of lockdown in May, it’s no surprise to see such small numbers of new cars registered in the UK. With dealers now allowed to reopen, the industry will look at ways to recover from this slump.
“Our research on in-market buyers shows more than a third are intending to purchase a new car in the next four weeks, so we should be seeing a surge in registrations in June. On the other hand, we are also seeing the number of buyers looking to purchase in the next six months declining, suggesting that long term consumer confidence is on the wane.”
Holder still expects pressure to mount on the Government to look at an incentive scheme to support the sector in the medium-term: “The calls for Government intervention in the automotive retail sector is only going to grow in the coming weeks. Unlike 2009, the market is starting from effectively zero. That’s a big hill to climb.
A new Scrappage Scheme could be a positive lever, not only in supporting sales and raising more taxes, but in boosting the emissions targets by taking older, more polluting vehicles off the road in favour of ultra-low carbon and electrified alternatives.”