New car sales down 30% in the UK whilst EV purchases soar
2020 marked the toughest year for the UK car market in 28 years.
The new car market in the UK fell by almost a third in 2020, a report from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has confirmed, with new vehicle registrations at their lowest since 1992.
Reporting a 29.4 percent drop to just 1,631,064 units – with private demand down 26.6 percent, and large company fleet take-up down 31.1 percent – December alone saw a 10.2 percent decline to wrap up a turbulent 12 months for an industry that coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns reeked havoc on. The drastic near-one-third drop in sales marks, as a percentage, shrinkage of more than double what other markets such as Australia saw during 2020.
With the end of sale date for internal combustion engine cars accelerated forward to 2030 and further uncertainty due to Brexit also setting the unfortunate tone for the year – although avoiding a 'no deal' EU exit provided some hope, given seven out of every 10 cars imported into the UK come from Europe – the downturn the UK car market saw represents a turnover loss of around £20.4 billion.
Although petrol-powered vehicles still remained the dominant force in the UK car market with a 62.7 percent share, along with diesels accounting for around one in every five new cars registered, it was a bumper year for battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.
Accounting for around one in every 10 new vehicles combined, BEV sales rose a staggering 185.9 percent (108,205 units), while PHEVs shot up 91.2 percent (66,877 units), although with around two-thirds of those being company cars, it appears private buyers still require further incentivisation.
Nonetheless, further proof of the EV's rapid dominance is the fact the Tesla Model 3 had the greatest number of sales during the month of December, while the Volkswagen ID.3 came in at fourth for the same period. However, superminis still remained dominant for the year overall – holding a 31.2 percent market share – with the Ford Fiesta topping the sales chart for 2020 with 49,174 new registrations, with it closely followed by the Vauxhall Corsa.
However, with over 100 BEV and PHEV vehicles available on the UK market currently and another 35 scheduled to hit the market during 2021, expect to see sales continue to rise consistently as 2030 approaches.
Although click-and-collect sales have been the UK car market's savour this past year, ongoing showroom closures due to further lockdowns in England are only set to make the recovery the trade association wants to see this coming year even more challenging.
“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," said Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive.