The new car market was badly affected once again by the coronavirus crisis in May 2020, with the latest figures showing an 89 percent plunge in registrations.
Just 20,247 new cars were registered as showrooms remained closed due to lockdown measures.
These vehicles were delivered mainly through innovative new ‘click and collect’ processes.
For the second month running, the Tesla Model 3 was Britain’s best-selling car.
Alternative fuel vehicles, including electric cars, hybrids and plug-in hybrids, actually took a bigger market share than diesel cars, claiming more than 19 percent of the market.
Worst since 1952
In May 2019, over 183,000 new cars hit the road, according to the official figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.
May 2020, by contrast, was the worst May on record since 1952.
Car showrooms reopened on Monday 1 June and retailers are reporting good business, which the car industry hopes will signal a recovery in new car sales.
In April 2020, just 4,321 new cars were registered: a 97 percent decline.
The electric Tesla Model 3 became the UK’s best-selling new car, with the Jaguar I-Pace (also an EV) in second place.
Year-to-date, the UK new car market has more than halved in size compared to 2019.
“After a second month of shutdown and the inevitable yet devastating impact on the market, this week’s reopening of dealerships is a pivotal moment for the entire industry,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.
“Early reports suggest there is good business given the circumstances, although it is far too early to tell how demand will pan out over the coming weeks and months.”
Auto Trader commercial director Ian Plummer said the figures were not surprising but insisted the market was paused, not stopped. “Now, it’s clearly restarting.”
Pent up demand was considerable, he said, with Auto Trader audience numbers now back up to pre-coronavirus levels.
“There remain question marks, though, about the sustainability of this demand over the mid-term.
“There are growing calls for government incentives to support the industry.”
Germany and France have already acted, said Mr Plummer: the UK “will now need to act fast to keep pace”.
May 2020: Top 10 best-selling cars
1: Tesla Model 3
2: Vauxhall Corsa
3: Ford Fiesta
4: Mercedes-Benz A-Class
5: Ford Focus
6: Volvo XC40
7: BMW 1 Series
8: Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class
9: Ford Kuga
10: Mercedes-Benz E-Class