Motor trade reflects on ‘lost year’ as used car sales slump

Richard Vernalls, PA
·2-min read

Thousands of used vehicles are being stored at a former motorsport venue as the automotive trade reflects on a “lost year” for the industry with used car sales down almost 15%.

Racing at the Rockingham Motor Speedway circuit ended in 2018 when the Northamptonshire track was sold off, with the site near Corby now used to store mainly former hire and ex-lease vehicles before they are sent to auctions or second-hand dealers’ forecourts.

Used car storage
Used cars parked on the 250-acre former motorsport site (Joe Giddens/PA)

The UK’s used car market slipped 14.9% in 2020, according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), released earlier this month.

Sales of second-hand vehicles fell to 6,752,959 – down 1,182,146 on 2019.

It was the worst-performing year for used cars since 2012.

The SMMT said coronavirus lockdown measures and “turbulent consumer and business confidence” have dented sales of both new and used vehicles.

Used car storage
Vehicles including trucks and HGV cabs are also stored on the site near Corby in Northamptonshire (Joe Giddens/PA)

It described 2020 as a “lost year” for the automotive trade, with sales figures evidence of the “significant damage” done to the sector by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Car registrations also plummeted by almost 30% last year, with dealers selling 1.9 million fewer vehicles overall than in the previous 12 months.

Used car storage
Industry figures have described 2020 as a ‘lost year’ for the automotive trade (Joe Giddens/PA)

Earlier this year, the SMMT revealed the pandemic’s toll on showrooms, with registrations of new vehicles plunging from 2.31 million units in 2019 to just 1.63 million in 2020.

It represented the biggest year-on-year decline since the Second World War and a 28-year low in terms of total sales.