“The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the new car market falling -44.4% in March. During these challenging times, it is crucial that the Government continues to support businesses in the automotive sector, one that employs over 590,000 people and is a key contributor to the UK economy”, said Sue Robinson, Director of the National Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), which represents franchised car and commercial vehicle retailers in the UK commenting on the latest SMMT figures.
New car sales declined by -44.4% in March with a total of 254,684 units. Year to date, the market is down -31.0%. In March, registrations of petrol cars declined -49.9%, diesel -61.9%, whilst battery electric vehicles continued to experience significant growth, up 197.4% and plug-in hybrids rose 38.0%.
Sue Robinson added, “The majority of franchised dealerships’ showrooms were closed for a week or longer in the second half of March which is when a large percentage of new cars are registered. As a result, the decline in new car sales does not come as a surprise.
“NFDA is working closely with franchised retailers and industry partners to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 through lobbying the Government for support on issues such as the inclusion of commissions in the Job Retention Scheme, workshop opening for key workers, MOT exemption and FCA fees for motor retailers.
“Franchised retailers continue to work hard to assess the issues currently affecting them as they continue to prioritise the health of their staff and customers.
“We remain hopeful that the market will recover and franchised retailers will be able to continue their support for consumers on their vehicle purchasing and servicing needs.”
About the RMI
The Retail Motor Industry represents the interests of operators in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man providing sales and services to motorists and businesses. The RMI has a formal association with the independent Scottish Motor Trade Association which represents the retail motor industry in Scotland.