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Coronavirus: UK new car registrations see weakest October since 2011

Lianna Brinded
·Head of Yahoo Finance UK
·2-min read
Honda cars are lined up at Southampton Docks prior to being loaded onto a car container ship for export. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
Honda cars are lined up at Southampton Docks prior to being loaded onto a car container ship for export. Photo: Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

The UK new car market just had its weakest October since 2011.

According to the latest figures published on Thursday by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the industry recorded 140,945 new registrations last month, a drop of 1.6% year-on-year. This is also 10.1% lower than the average recorded over the last 10 years.

Chart: SMMT
Chart: SMMT

The SMMT warned that lockdowns had subdued demand, particularly in Wales where the region’s “firebreak” lockdown accounts for more than half of the month’s losses.

The group warned that the new “stay at home” order for England, which starts today (5 November), will inevitably force UK showrooms to close until 2 December and naturally have an impact on figures.

“When showrooms shut, demand drops, so there is a real danger that with England today entering a second lockdown, both dealers and manufacturers could face temporary closure,” said Mike Hawes, CEO of SMMT.

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“What is not in doubt, however, is that the entire industry now faces an even tougher end to the year as businesses desperately try to manage resources, stock, production and cashflow in the penultimate month before the inevitable upheaval of Brexit.

“Keeping showrooms open — some of the most COVID-secure retail environments around — would help cushion the blow but, more than ever, we need a tariff-free deal with the EU to provide some much-needed respite for an industry that is resilient but massively challenged.”

Looking forward, the SMMT said that the industry “pins hopes” on click & collect for cars, “to avoid repeat of spring’s market wipe-out.”

For those who did buy a new car in October, here were the most popular models:

Table: SMMT
Table: SMMT

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