New Car Market Update April 2021

Rob Donaldson | 13 May 2021

About the author

Rob Donaldson

UK Car Editor

Born in Acton, London, Robert worked for several blue-chip organisations including Compaq, British Airways and 3M. Of interest, Robert also owned a repair garage with his brother in the 90s with whom he restored Classic cars, before joining Glass’s in 2006.

New car showroom

April’s new car market showed some recovery as the government eased lockdown rules to allow showrooms to reopen their doors during the month.

Drawing comparisons to last year’s figures is problematic as the country was in full lockdown and registrations were almost non-existent. Therefore a 3000% increase to 141,583 from 4,321 registrations needs to be put into context. When April 2021 is compared to pre-pandemic April 2019, total registrations were lower by 12.1%, with drops across all sectors as shown in the table below.

Total registrations recorded in April table

                                                                                                     Data courtesy of SMMT

Year-to-date registrations for 2021 now stand at 567,108 units, which represents a reduction of nearly a third of the average recorded over the past decade. However, the full impact of showrooms reopening has yet to be realized given the time lag from visiting a showroom to taking delivery.

The major growth area continued to be the alternative fuel sector, with plug-ins accounting for 13.3% of the April market. Indeed, when compared to April 2019 the growth has been almost exponential as supply and choice improves.

Plug-in new car registrations April 2021 graph

                                                                                      Data courtesy of SMMT

A full recovery is some way off, especially as many manufacturers struggle to get back to full capacity around the world due to high COVID-19 infection rates. Also, the supply of semiconductors is still problematic and creating long lead times for build and delivery.

The outlook for the next couple of months is positive, as the Government continues to roll back lockdown rules coupled with the successful vaccination rollout and a low infection rate. Consumer and business confidence will keep improving and the new car market should return to a degree of normality with consumers having full access to dealer showrooms.

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