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New car sales still struggling in February under lockdown

Industry still manages to shift two thirds of last year's volume despite nationwide lockdown.

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The slow start to 2021 for new car sales continued in February (and let’s face it, will almost certainly carry on through March and probably April), with consumer new car registrations down by 37% compared to the same month last year.

According to data published today by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), overall registrations were down 35% year-on-year, with fleet registrations performing better than private sales. The silver lining to this cloud is that the industry still managed to managed to shift two-thirds of last February’s volume despite every new car shoroom in the UK being closed.

Despite the car industry’s best efforts to talk down its results, the work that has gone into developing nationwide online sales has basically saved a large number of manufacturers and dealers. Let’s not forget that when dealerships were closed last Spring, sales were down by 99%

Electrification trend continues to accelerate

As has been the case for nearly every month over the last couple of years, predominantly-electrified cars (full electric and plug-in hybrid) all saw strong growth while diesel’s market share plumbed new depths and petrol fell significantly as well.

Sales of regular hybrids did fall, but nowhere near to the extent of the overall market so it was still a net growth in market share.

February can throw up some odd results, so we shall see how things look in March.

Good month, bad month

In a market down by 35%, there inevitably wasn’t a lot of celebrating. But some car brands certainly did better than others.

It was good news for Audi, Jeep, Kia, Land Rover, MG, Mini, Nissan, Subaru and Volvo, who all outperformed the overall market by at least 10%.

On the other hand, it was not so rosy for Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Citroën, Dacia, DS Automobiles, Fiat, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Lexus, Maserati, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Renault, SsangYong or Suzuki, who all underperformed the overall market by at least 10%.

All of the manufacturers will have their fingers crossed for better results when the new registration plates arrive in March.

Fiesta strikes back in battle with Corsa

After the Vauxhall Corsa drew first blood in January, the Ford Fiesta struck back to take top spot on the sales charts in February.

It’s hopefully a battle that will carry on all year. The Corsa still holds top spot in year-to-date sales on account of its stronger performance in January, but March registrations will likely dwarf the first two months’ results anyway.

It wasn’t surprising to see two Volkswagens in the top ten, but what was definitely unusual was that neither of them was the Golf or the Polo. Instead it was the T-Roc and T-Cross small SUV models that occupied seventh and eighth places on the best-sellers list.

Check out our full analysis of February’s top ten here.

The latest from The Car Expert

Stuart Masson
Stuart Massonhttps://www.thecarexpert.co.uk/
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites: The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.