MG and Tesla were the only car makers to increase sales last year

New-car registrations hit a 30-year low in 2020, but two manufacturers managed to buck the trend

Tesla Model 3 - Front Tracking

New-car registrations may have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic - to the tune of a 29.4 per cent slump, with 680,076 fewer vehicles finding homes last year compared to 2019 - but two manufacturers managed to increase their sales in 2020.

MG saw 18,415 new cars registered in the UK last year, up from 13,075 in 2019 - a 40.84 per cent increase, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Tesla registrations are harder to pin down, as the company does not list national sales breakdowns, but a total of 26,086 ‘other imports’ are listed in SMMT’s registration data for last year, up from 14,635 in 2019 - a 78.24 per cent rise. 

We do know, however, that 22,344 examples of the Tesla Model 3 were registered last year, with the EV being December’s top-selling car, and the 14th best-selling car for the entire year, according to SMMT. Auto Express understands the vast majority of those ‘other imports’ were also Teslas.

With dealerships closed for much of the year due to lockdowns and low consumer confidence, every other major car maker that sells in the UK saw registrations fall in 2020, some by significant amounts. Subaru was hit by a 68.27 per cent decline, shifting just 951 cars, down from 2,997 models in 2019.

Citroen, meanwhile, experienced a 44.77 per cent slump, with Mazda, Suzuki, Mitsubishi and Hyundai all experiencing similar declines. Even Ford - maker of the Fiesta, Britain’s best-selling car - wasn’t immune, experiencing a 35.3 per cent drop in sales overall. And while Bentley enjoyed its best-ever year globally in 2020, selling 11,206 cars for a two per cent rise on 2019, in the UK the luxury car maker’s figures were down 16.18 per cent, with 1,337 registrations. 

Tesla’s success is easy to pin down, with its well-established online sales model largely unaffected by lockdown, and its contactless delivery system being a relatively straightforward change to implement. 

MG’s sales increase in the face of the pandemic can be explained both by a rapidly growing model range, and the success its affordable EVs have enjoyed. As with Tesla, MG EVs have been well-placed to take advantage of market trends that saw registrations of electric cars rise 185.9 per cent in 2020.

Click here for find out the best-selling cars in the UK in 2020...

Recommended

DVSA backlog creates ‘grey market’ for driving tests
Driving test

DVSA backlog creates ‘grey market’ for driving tests

Learners say they’ve paid more than £200 to jump the queue and ditch their L-plates
1 Jun 2022
New car delivery times 2022: how long will you have to wait?
New car waiting times
Features

New car delivery times 2022: how long will you have to wait?

No one likes having to wait for their new car so we called key manufacturers for to get their latest UK lead times
11 Mar 2022
MINI stops production in Oxford until 18 March
MINI
MINI

MINI stops production in Oxford until 18 March

Semiconductor shortage and war in Ukraine cited as reasons for plant closure 
9 Mar 2022
Car dealer for the day: inside car sales and aftersales at a franchised showroom
Car dealer for a day - Cupra
Features

Car dealer for the day: inside car sales and aftersales at a franchised showroom

We play the part of car dealer and find out how dealerships have coped with Covid, the semiconductor shortage and new ways of doing business
28 Feb 2022

Most Popular

EU demands speed limiters on all new cars from next week: know the rules and how they work
speed limiters
News

EU demands speed limiters on all new cars from next week: know the rules and how they work

Car industry body calls for UK government to adopt the new measures, but we’ll probably get them anyway…
29 Jun 2022
New MG 4 electric hatch arrives with 280 miles of range
New MG 4 2023
News

New MG 4 electric hatch arrives with 280 miles of range

The all-electric MG 4 hatchback rivals the Volkswagen ID.3 and introduces MG’s new MSP electric platform
28 Jun 2022
New 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 6 enters as sleek all-electric saloon
Hyundai Ioniq 6 - front
News

New 2022 Hyundai Ioniq 6 enters as sleek all-electric saloon

The Hyundai Ioniq 6 is the follow-up to the game-changing Ioniq 5 and packages the same EV technology into a streamlined shape
28 Jun 2022