Pent up demand after lockdown eased is thought to have driven a rise in new car registrations last month.
Figures from the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders due to be released later this morning are expected to show an 11% rise compared with the same month in 2019. December saw the last increase but it was a blip after a year of decline.
The new car sales market has struggled with falling demand and rising costs of models with the latest technology to boost low emissions and then the Coronavirus epidemic shut showrooms for three months, so a mere fraction of new cars were sold on-line or over the telephone.
The first half of this year was the worst for new car manufacturing in Britain since 1954 and predicted volume is about 800,000 compared to a hoped for 2M by the end of 2020.
France recorded a modest rise in new car registrations as well last month and the industry hopes this increase will not just be a blip but sign of a return of buyers to showrooms now implementing social distancing regulations.
The car makers have used the lockdown to assembly lines with the distancing regulations but it has meant some production is slower and not all suppliers are able to make components they need in the quantities they need so this is adding to the car production delays.
However, the resilience of the industry and the sellers appears to be paying off, although big dealership chains have made thousands redundant as their income collapsed and they will not be part of the recovery, however long it lasts.
Worries over redundancies as furlough schemes end over coming months and another rise in Coronavirus cases leading to further restrictions on socialising and business which may come in the autumn or winter, but these are traditionally quiet months anyway after the new-plate September rush.
That is driven by orders in the summer and August and depends on models being built and available but the lockdown hit production of models which would normally be sold for the September new plate spike so it remains to be seen if there will be a discernible rise this year.
Used car sales have done really well after the lockdown because of their availability, range and prices and have kept some dealerships afloat after new car sales dried up. The new car sales lift is going to increase the range of second-hand models as well as part-exchanges come into the market.
The figure of about 175,000 new car registrations in July will offer some welcome relief. A few weeks ago, the SMMT said it anticipated annual sales this year to be under half what they achieved in a difficult 2019 but there’re still fivve months of sales to go and manufacturers have been dramatically improving their offerings.