New car sales dip 1.6% due to Welsh ‘firebreak’

Richard Aucock
·2-min read
Nissan Leaf in a car showroom with a 70-plate new car registration
Nissan Leaf in a car showroom with a 70-plate new car registration

New car registrations fell 1.6 percent in October 2020 as the Welsh ‘firebreak’ lockdown dampened a surprise rise in private buyer demand.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufactures and Traders indicate the Welsh firebreak accounted for more than half the losses in October 2020 – and warns worse is in store for November following the English ‘stay at home’ lockdown that forces showrooms to close.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “When showrooms shut, demand drops, so there is a real danger that with England today entering a second lockdown, both dealers and manufacturers could face temporary closure.

“What is not in doubt, however, is that the entire industry now faces an even tougher end to the year as businesses desperately try to manage resources, stock, production and cashflow in the penultimate month before the inevitable upheaval of Brexit.”

New car registrations of 140,945 vehicles in October resulted in the worst performance in the month since 2011, with sales running more than 10 percent below average.

Demand from private buyers was actually marginally up 0.4 percent, but the larger fleet car market was down 3.3 percent, leading to the overall 1.6 percent market decline.

October’s figures follow a 4.4 percent fall in September 2020 new car registrations. This took them down to levels last seen in 1999.

‘Weakest since 1982’

The second lockdown has now led the SMMT revise down its predicted total for 2020 by a further 100,000 vehicles, to 1.56 million registrations.

This equates to 750,000 fewer registrations this year – a £22.5bn loss in turnover for retailers.

2020 is now expected to be the weakest year for new car sales since 1982.

In more positive news, over 9,300 100% zero emissions electric cars were registered in October, a 195 percent increase on 2019 figures. This saw electric cars take a 6.6 percent market share.

In contrast, the decline of conventional diesel vehicles continued, with sales falling 38.4 percent to a market share of less than 15 percent.

Even with mild hybrid diesels included, the fuel still now takes less than 1 in 5 new car sales.

Top 10 best-selling cars: October 2020

The Mercedes-Benz A-Class was the surprise best-selling car of October 2020.

It beat the Vauxhall Corsa, which again edged ahead of the Ford Fiesta – although Ford’s supermini still holds top spot for 2020 year-to-date sales.

The new Ford Puma also bolstered Ford’s fortunes by coming in fifth, just behind the Volkswagen Golf and ahead of the Volvo XC40.

1: Mercedes-Benz A-Class

2: Vauxhall Corsa

3: Ford Fiesta

4: Volkswagen Golf

5: Ford Puma

6: Volvo XC40

7: Mini

8: Ford Focus

9: BMW 1 Series

10: Audi A3

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