New car registrations surge 11% in July due to pent-up demand

New car sales start to bounce back with dealerships across the UK having fully reopened, although year-to-date registrations are still down 42 per cent

New car registrations in the UK rose 11.3 per cent year-on-year in July thanks to pent-up demand following months of dealerships being closed.

A total of 174,887 new cars were registered - compared with 157,198 in July 2019 - during the month, for which all dealerships across the UK had fully reopened.

Despite the recovery, registrations for the year-to-date are still down 41.9 per cent, according to the latest figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), with 828,389 new cars registered so far in 2020, compared with 1,426,443 by the same point in 2019.

The SMMT now predicts that the total new car registrations figure for the whole of 2020 will be 30 per cent down on that of 2019, representing around £20 billion of lost new car sales.

Private registrations saw the biggest increase in July, rising 20.4 per cent year-on-year. Fleet was up 5.2 per cent, while new car registrations for business declined 11.8 per cent, from 3,517 to 3,101.

Plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles made up a nine per cent share of the new car market in July, representing stable demand. Superminis and small family cars were the most popular segments, meanwhile, accounting for 59.1 per cent of registrations.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “July’s figures are positive, with a boost from demand pent up from earlier in the year and some attractive offers meaning there are some very good deals to be had. We must be cautious, however, as showrooms have only just fully reopened nationwide and there is still much uncertainty about the future.

“By the end of September we should have a clearer picture of whether or not this is a long-term trend. Although this month’s figures provide hope, the market remains fragile in the face of possible future spikes and localised lockdowns as well as, sadly, probable job losses across the economy. The next few weeks will be crucial in showing whether or not we are on the road to recovery.”

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