(Bloomberg) — U.K. car sales got off to the slowest start in half a century as dealerships were among the businesses forced to shut their doors to contain the resurgent coronavirus.
Registrations plunged 40% in January to 90,249 cars, the lowest for the month since 1970, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Battery-electric models remained a rare bright spot with sales growing 54%, though they still represent just 6.9% of the market.
The U.K.’s auto lobby group cut its 2021 sales forecast by 5% to less than 1.9 million cars and called for showrooms to be opened as soon as Covid-19 cases are suppressed to protect employment. More than 10,000 jobs were cut across the sector last year and post-Brexit trade complications are weighing on the industry’s recovery prospects.
“Every day that showrooms can safely open will matter,” Mike Hawes, SMMT’s chief executive officer, said