April new car sales in ‘artificial’ 3,000% increase as showrooms reopen

a car parked in a parking lot: Vauxhall Corsa

© Provided by Motoring Research
Vauxhall Corsa

New car registrations grew 3,176 percent in April 2021 as showrooms reopened – but the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has urged caution at this ‘artificial’ figure.

Lockdown closures in April 2020 saw just 4,321 new cars registered, mainly to essential workers.

Last month’s volumes remain 12.9 percent down on the 10-year average with 141,583 new cars registered. They are also lower than April 2019.

Private car buyers have been returning to retailers since they reopened on 12 April, shown by a more than doubling of market share.

Last year, just 871 retail cars were sold: last month, this rocketed more than 7,000 percent to almost 62k cars.

Even so, demand from consumers is still 14.5 percent down on the 10-year average.

The SMMT has also pointed out that pure electric car sales were, unusually, beaten by plug-in hybrid (PHEV) volumes. April’s registrations were also lower than the Q1 2021 average, following cuts to the Plug-in Car Grant.

Pure electric cars are now expected to count for 8.9 percent of new car registrations in 2021, down from an earlier forecast of 9.3 percent.

“After one of the darkest years in automotive history, there is light at the end of the tunnel,” said SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes.

“A full recovery for the sector is still some way off, but with showrooms open and consumers able to test drive the latest, cleanest models, the industry can begin to rebuild.”

The SMMT has revised its full year forecasts upwards, on the back of the vaccine rollout, from 1.83 million vehicles to 1.86 million new cars.

“Market confidence is improving, and we now expect to finish the year in a slightly better position than anticipated in February, largely thanks to the more upbeat business and consumer confidence created by the successful vaccine rollout.

“That confidence should also translate into another record year for electric vehicles, which will likely account for more than one in seven new car registrations.”

Gallery: The fastest depreciating cars over the past 12 months (Motoring Research)

April 2021 best-selling cars

The Vauxhall Corsa is once again Britain’s best-selling new car. Year to date, it has clocked up more than 16,000 registrations – putting clear space between it and last year’s favourite new car, the Ford Fiesta.

The Corsa has been Britain’s best-selling car for eight of the past 12 months.

Surprisingly, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class came out second, ahead of the Ford Fiesta and the increasingly popular Ford Puma SUV.

The Volkswagen Golf family hatch rounded out the top five, while the Ford Kuga crept into 10th place to make it four Fords in the UK’s top 10 best-selling cars.

Top 10 best-sellers: April 2021

1: Vauxhall Corsa

2: Mercedes-Benz A-Class

3: Ford Fiesta

4: Ford Puma

5: Volkswagen Golf

6: Ford Focus

7: Audi A3

8: Kia Sportage

9: Volkswagen Polo

10: Ford Kuga


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