UK Car Sales See Biggest Annual Drop Since Second World War

The pandemic saw UK car sales hit their lowest rate since 1992 - Image Source: SMMT

UK CAR SALES saw the biggest annual drop in 2020 since the Second World War, hitting the lowest level since 1992.

Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) have revealed that Britain has seen the lowest level of car sales since 1992, with the slump marking the largest annual drop in sales since the Second World War.

The SMMT says that around 1.63 million cars were sold in the UK in 2020, marking a 29% decline from 2019 figures. The first UK lockdown in March was the biggest factor in the drop, with showrooms across the country closed until June.

Sales hit a peak of 2.7m as recently as 2016, but in 2020 sales fell below 2 million for the first time since 2011. The SMMT said the new English national lockdown announced by the government on Monday will make it difficult for sales figures to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2021.

“It was a very, very difficult year,” said Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, according to the Guardian. “These are unprecedented levels [of disruption] and they’ve challenged the industry continuously.”

Despite the slump in cars being sold, sales of battery-electric cars nearly trebled during the year to just below 110,000, making up roughly 6.6% of overall sales.

However, the SMMT has offered hope that Britain will remain a gateway for European car markers in a post-Brexit environment.


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Oisin Sweeney

Oisin is an Irish writer based in Seville, the sunny capital of Andalucia. After starting his working life as a bookseller, he moved into journalism and cut his teeth as a reporter at one of Ireland's biggest news websites. Since joining Euro Weekly News in November, he has enjoyed covering the latest stories from Seville, Spain and further afield - with special interests in crime, cybersecurity, and European politics. Anyone who can pronounce his name first try gets a free cerveza...

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