The UK’s new car market faced yet another period of decline in October, according to figures published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
However, it seems that much of the year-on-year fall can be specifically attributed to the Welsh car market, which suffered in the latter part of the month due to the ‘firebreak’ lockdown that begun on 23 October.
A total of 140,945 cars were registered throughout last month, a fall of 1.6% year on year and the weakest October figure since 2011. The SMMT claims “new models and ongoing financial incentives” helped boost sales in the first portion of the month.
The lockdown in Wales, which closed all car dealerships and brought online-only measures into place, saw the country record 25.5% fewer registrations by the end of the month. That, said the SMMT, accounted for more than half of the overall decline.
Another factor was “subdued activity” by businesses, with 2500 fewer vehicles joining company fleets than in October 2019. Private registrations were actually up by 0.4%, but the SMMT cautions that this figure is “flattered” by last year’s already weak figures for the month.
The overall market forecast for the year has again been revised down following the announcement of a second lockdown in England. With dealerships closed until at least early December, the SMMT’s mid-October forecast of 1.66 million new cars in 2020 has been drawn down to 1.56 million.
That makes a year-on-year decline of 750,000 registrations. The SMMT estimates 2020 will, as a result, be the weakest year for new car sales since 1982, with a turnover loss of £22.5 billion.
Diesel’s market share fell once again, down to 19.2% if you include the 4.3% figure for mild hybrids. Petrol car registrations were 21.3% lower than in October 2019, too, while plug-in and hybrid car registrations grew substantially once again. For example, fully electric cars captured 6.6% of the market compared with just 2.2% in October 2019.
Unusually, Mercedes beat the usual suspects (the Ford Fiesta, Vauxhall Corsa and Volkswagen Golf) with its A-Class securing the best-seller spot for the month. The Ford Puma, a relatively new arrival, was in fifth place with only 236 fewer registrations than the Fiesta.