UK car sales crash in March

Posted on: April 6th, 2020 by PhilM

Data from the SMMT shows that March UK new car registrations fell by more than 200,000 to 254,684 units – a drop of 44.4% compared with March 2019.

Year to date registrations were down 31% down to 483,557 units. Private car sales fell 40% in March; fleet registrations fell further, by more than 47%.

Year to date registrations of diesel-powered cars were down 51%. Petrol engine car sales declined by 36%. Sales of all types of alternative fuel vehicles increased year on year.

Light commercial vehicle registrations (under 3.5 tonnes) fell 54% in the month, taking the year to date decline to 34%, which means 30,000 fewer units were registered in the three months. Registrations of commercial vehicles between 3.5 and 6 tonnes also fell in March, by 20.6%; year to date registrations remained positive, 1.2% on same period 2019. 

Full data including registrations by brand are available on the SMMT website. Manufacturing data has not yet been published.

March car registrations in Germany also fell sharply by 38% (source: KBA) but sales in other major EU economies collapsed as a result of the coronavirus. Registrations in Spain fell 69%; in France they were down 72% (CCFA); and Italian registrations plummeted by 86% (UNRAE).

European motor manufacturers’ organisation, the ACEA, has set up a dedicated set of web pages reflecting the impact of Covid-19 on the automotive sector.  It includes an interactive map and set of tables detailing lost production and number of employees affected. The UK data indicates 94,717 units of production lost to date with 65,455 direct employees affected. 

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