Boost for dealers
Car sales rise 11.5% in March as showrooms reopen
Showrooms are reopening
Sales of new cars rose by 11.5% last month compared to March 2020, providing the sector with some encouragement as showrooms reopen.
Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) show that 283,964 cars were registered in March compared to 254,684 in the same month last year.
The SMMT said dealers have adapted to online and click-and-collect procedures to maintain sales through the lockdown.
However, last month’s total was 38% down on the 2019 volume of 458,000 which is regarded as a truer comparison.
The Vauxhall Corsa remains the best selling car while electric Tesla Model 3 is now fourth in the list.
The pandemic has accelerated the move towards electrification, partly because home working has reduced the amount of travelling.
Electrified vehicles have a total market share of 13.8% for the month, almost double 2020 the share of 7.3%.
However, total car sales are 37% down on the average March total for the 10 years to 2019. March is a key date in the industry as it marks a change in the number plate.
The SMMT estimates the industry as a whole suffered a £23 billion loss in the year since first national lockdown was announced at the end of March 2020.
Robert Forrester, CEO of the Vertu Motors Group, told Autocar magazine, that showrooms were operating at between 70% and 90% of normal sales volume.
Car showrooms reopened in Scotland on Easter Monday while they remain closed in England until 12 April.