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Car registrations down 89% in May compared to last year

Date: 04 June 2020   |   Author: Illya Verpraet

The SMMT's latest figures show that car sales picked up slightly in May, even if the overall numbers are still dire. With showrooms in England reopening in June, next month's figures will be key.

Just over 20,000 cars were delivered in May. That's an improvement from the 4,000 units of April, as click and collect schemes were allowed from mid-month. It's still an 89% fall compared to May last year, however.

Of the 20,247 cars registered in May, 63.7% or 12,900 were bought by private buyers, while 32.8% or 6638 went to fleets. The remaining 709 went to business customers.

Surprisingly, sales for battery-electric cars were up, from 1,995 to 2,424, as pre-orders were delivered.

The overall market is now down 51.4% in the first five months of 2020, at just over half a million registrations compared with more than one million at this point last year.

With car showrooms allowed to reopen in England (but not in Scotland and Wales) from the start of this week and in Northern Ireland from next week, June figures will say more about how the car industry is likely to recover.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said, "After a second month of shutdown and the inevitable yet devastating impact on the market, this week's re-opening of dealerships is a pivotal moment for the entire industry and the thousands of people whose jobs depend on it. 

"Customers keen to trade up into the latest, cutting-edge new cars are now able to return to showrooms and 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. 

"Restarting this market is a crucial first step in driving the recovery of Britain's critical car manufacturers and supply chain, and to supporting the wider economy. Ensuring people have the confidence to invest in the latest vehicles will not only help them get on the move safely, but these new models will also help address some of the environmental challenges the UK faces in the long term."