UK new car registrations rose for the first time this year, by 11.3%, according to July figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
July new car registrations reached 174,887 as dealerships across the nation fully re-opened.
Pent-up demand and special offers led to a reprieve for the sector, but overall registrations are still down by -41.9% or 598,054 units year-to-date. Despite the increase in July, SMMT’s full year outlook is for a -30% decline in registrations.
The UK new light commercial vehicle (LCV) market also saw its first month of growth since January, with a 7.1% increase in registrations. In total, 27,701 new LCVs joined Britain’s roads.
Growth was particularly pronounced in medium-sized vans weighing greater than 2.0 to 2.5 tonnes, which saw an 12% increase in registrations, and pick-ups, where dealers recorded a 24.9% increase in sales. The only fall was in the light van (less than or equal to 2.0 tonnes) sector, where registrations dropped by -22.0%. Heavy vans, with 17,566 registrations, increased by 5.4%.
Meanwhile, there was a substantial 78.1% increase in 4×4 demand, but this class of vehicle represents a very small fraction of total LCV registrations.
Elsewhere, new data from the SMMT shows that the UK’s used car market declined by -48.9% in the second quarter of 2020 with just 1,039,303 units changing hands. The decline followed a bumper January and February, with growth going into reverse during lockdown.
The pace of decline eased as the quarter progressed, from a peak year on year loss of -74.2% in April to -17.5% in June.
Demand for pre-owned battery electric vehicles, which grew by 44.8% in the first quarter of 2020, declined in the second quarter, falling by -29.7% to 2,288 units, although their market share remained stable at 0.2%. At the same time, sales of plug-in hybrids dropped -56.3%, with just 3,249 changing hands. Meanwhile, petrol and diesel car transactions decreased by -49.2% and -48.5% respectively, although combined they still accounted for 98.3% of sales in the quarter, equivalent to 1,021,963 units.