2020 Was Worst Year This Century For New Car Sales

Wed 6th Jan 2021

British car buyers turned away from purchasing new cars in the last 12 months, though sales of used and nearly new cars remained strong as forward-thinking companies such as Motor Depot found innovative ways to keep their customers happy.

Car sales fell to their lowest level since 1992 according to figures published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, new registrations falling by 29.4 per cent and just 1.63 million new cars sold.

The effects of the pandemic and lockdown saw 600,000 fewer new cars sold by the manufacturers, the largest year-on-year decline since 1943 - and that slump was due to most car manufacturers building military equipment to support the war effort for the Second World War.

Many dealerships were closed during lockdown, having a major impact on sales, however, at Motor Depot customers are able to browse a huge range of cars online with click-and-collect options available throughout lockdowns.

But the big brands struggled to shift their stock and many factories were closed due to a fall in demand for new motors.

“The big issue last year was the effect of Covid and that is continuing into 2021. Overall, there’s no surprise it was a very, very difficult year,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes. “There are unprecedented levels and it’s challenging the industry continuously.”

It wasn’t all disappointing news, PHEVs and EVs saw their market share increase over the year, while smaller superminis also suffered small declines in terms of overall sales, and the sale of specialist sports cars rose by seven per cent.

“If you think about the effects of Covid with some people coming out of shared or public transport and going into the market for a new or used car, it makes sense in that regard,” said Hawes. “It will be a rocky few months but we hope as the year goes on it gets more positive.”