Boost to new car sales in July

After the lull imposed by lockdown, we take a look at how well sales of new cars fared in July.

Published: 6th August 2020

After the lull imposed by lockdown, July saw an 11.3% increase on the same month in 2019, with 174,887 new vehicle registrations.

With staggered reopening in June for England, Scotland and Wales, July was the first full month of trading for the motor industry for the whole of the UK.

Whether the upturn is set to continue for the rest of the year is doubtful. The industry is currently catching up after lockdown stopped people from changing their cars. Most of the main manufacturers are offering incentives on finance to attract new sales but with the end of the furlough scheme and redundancies expected across several industries people are going to be less inclined to make big purchases.


Although the market is currently benefiting from pent up demand, year-to-date new vehicle registrations are still -41.9% and still expected to be -30% by the end of the year. This would be a loss of over £20 billion in sales.

Urging caution, Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

By the end of September we should have a clearer picture of whether or not this is a long-term trend. Although this month’s figures provide hope, the market remains fragile in the face of possible future spikes and localised lockdowns as well as, sadly, probable job losses across the economy. The next few weeks will be crucial in showing whether or not we are on the road to recovery.

One positive trend that did continue was the increasing popularity of electric and hybrid vehicles with a 137% increase compared to July 2019. Maintaining a better market share than diesel vehicles with EVs at 25.5% compared to 16.5% for diesel.

Compared to July 2019, fully electric vehicles are up 259% and hybrids are up by 143.9%.

Whilst the future remains an unknown there sems to be consensus on a delayed fallout of the Covid-19 lockdown, particularly when the government job retention scheme comes to an end. A number of industries have been hard hit this year and if employers are still struggling job losses and reduced income could result in another hit for the already plagued motor industry.

Published: 6th August 2020
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