UK registrations stall in November as second lockdown takes effect

Tom Geggus | 04 Dez 2020

Über den Autor

Tom Geggus


As editor of Autovista24, Tom covers a wide variety of stories from across the automotive industry. From sales figures to the development of technology, he wants to know what is driving the industry.

Westminster in London bei der Dämmerung

UK new-car registrations fell by 27.4% year-on-year in November, as a second lockdown came into effect, closing dealerships and hampering sales. New data from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) reveals that 42,840 fewer cars joined British roads, resulting in a £1.3 billion (€1.4 billion) revenue hit for the market.

In total, the UK saw 113,781 new-car registrations last month, taking trade back to levels not seen since the 2008 recession. Private demand fell by 32.2%, while registrations by large fleets dropped by 22.1%. While this most recent decline demonstrates the continued impact of COVID-19, the drop was less severe than the one in the UK’s first lockdown which began in March, where registrations fell by 97.3% in April alone.

Fuel type divergence

Positive trends did continue for alternative-fuel cars, with battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs) increasing their number of registrations, up 122.4% and 76.9% respectively. BEVs enjoyed their third-highest ever monthly market share at 9.1%, with PHEVs also building their share up to 6.8%.

Nearly 37% of the market was held by low-emission fuel types in November, resulting in a year-on-year change of 74.1%. This resulted in a combined total of 18,000 new zero-emission capable cars joining the UK’s roads during the month. Meanwhile, petrol continued to hold on to its market majority at 49.1%, with a year-on-year registrations drop of 41.9%, from 96,166 in November 2019 to 55,855 in the same period this year. Diesel sales fell by 56.2% to 15,925 in November 2020 from 36,329 units in the same period last year, holding on to 14% of the market.

Grafik: Neuwagen Anmeldungen November 2020 SMMT
Source: SMMT

Protective measures in place

November’s partial triumph is the result of manufacturers being better prepared to deal with the pandemic, having already put in place protective measures during the first wave of COVID-19 and the resulting lockdowns, such as click and collect ordering systems with little to no human contact.

‘Given the huge contribution that COVID-19-secure showrooms make to the economy and a national recovery, reopening dealerships across most of the UK will help protect jobs in retail and manufacturing and should help stimulate spending,’ the SMMT said.

So far, the automotive sector has been stripped of 663,761 units this year, down 30.7%. This means that some 31,000 cars would need to be registered every working day in December if the market was to climb back to the level expected at the beginning of 2020.

UK new-car registrations, January 2018 to December 2020 (forecast from December 2020)

UK new-car registrations, January 2018 to December 2020

Source: SMMT and Autovista Group

‘Compared with the spring lockdown, manufacturers, dealers and consumers were all better prepared to adjust to constrained trading conditions,’ said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive. ‘But with £1.3 billion worth of new car revenue lost in November alone, the importance of showroom trading to the UK economy is evident and we must ensure they remain open in any future COVID-19 restrictions. More positively, with a vaccine now approved, the business and consumer confidence on which this sector depends can only improve, giving the industry more optimism for the turn of the year.’

Now with less than a month to go until the UK leaves the EU, talks over a trade deal look to be reaching a pinnacle moment. In the event of no free-trade agreement between the UK and EU tariffs of 10% could be added to imports and exports. Carmakers have already cautioned their inability to absorb this additional cost, meaning they could tag it onto the price of new cars imported into the country, which will only come to hurt the sector further.

UK registrations stall in November as second lockdown takes effect

What is total cost of ownership?

30 Apr 2021

What is total cost of ownership (TCO)? Daily Brief editor Phil Curry explains the terminology and its importance as a cost-comparison tool. To get...

Are EVs as green as they seem?

30 Apr 2021

The last year has been dominated by a single health emergency that brought the world to its knees. But for decades, scientists and campaigners have...

Updated whitepaper: How will COVID-19 shape used-car markets?

23 Apr 2021

The latest edition of Autovista Group’s whitepaper: How will COVID-19 shape used-car markets? considers the third-wave of coronavirus infections across Europe, and looks at the lessons learned a year...

Ja, ich möchte mich für den Autovista24-Newsletter anmelden

* Pflichtfeld

Ja, ich möchte folgende E-Mails erhalten:
Autovista24: europaweite Nachrichten und Insights - Täglicher Versand von Autovista Limited, auf Englisch

In unseren E-Mails verwenden wir Pixel, die uns zeigen, wenn Sie unsere E-Mails öffnen, weiterleiten oder Links anklicken. Dies hilft uns, die Leistung und Wirksamkeit unserer E-Mails zu messen. Wir kombinieren dies mit den Informationen, die Sie bei der Newsletter Anmeldungen angeben haben und Ihren Browsing-Informationen, damit wir unser Marketing besser auf Sie zuschneiden und verbessern sowie Ihre Benutzererfahrung auf unserer Website personalisieren können. Indem Sie sich anmelden, stimmen Sie der Verwendung Ihrer Daten zum Zweck der Zusendung der ausgewählten E-Mails und der Verwendung von Zählpixeln zu. Sie können Ihre Zustimmung zum Erhalt unserer E-Mails und dem Verwenden der Zählpixel jederzeit widerrufen, indem Sie dem Link zum E-Mail-Präferenzzentrum folgen, der in jeder E-Mail enthalten ist, die Sie erhalten. Weitere Informationen über die Verarbeitung Ihrer persönlichen Daten finden Sie in der Eurotax Datenschutzerklärung.