As expected new car sales fell -39.5% as a result of the January lockdown, but retailers are optimistic about the year ahead, provided that dealerships will be allowed to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.

The UK new car market suffered a -39.5% decline in January with 90,249 units registered according to the latest SMMT’s new passenger car registration figures. Whilst sales of new petrol and diesel cars decreased by -50.6% and -62.1% respectively in January compared with last year, sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) rose by 54.4% and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) grew by 28.0%.

Franchised dealers continue to offer ‘click & collect’ and deliveries to customers, and aftersales servicing to keep key workers on the road, however, there is a proportion of consumers waiting for dealerships to reopen and holding off their vehicle purchases due to the current restrictions. Showrooms have spacious areas and dealers can work by appointment ensuring the safety of customers and staff.

Positively, sales of electrified vehicles have begun the year with a strong performance and with more models coming to the market, the improvement to the charging infrastructure and retailers investing heavily to inform their customers, sales of EVs will continue to grow.

Despite the lockdown, the automotive retail sector is looking at 2021 with confidence as sales will likely be fuelled by pent-up demand, rising registrations of low and zero emission vehicles and the increasing importance of car ownership, which is seen by more and more people as the safest mean of personal transport in the present climate.