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Slow start for new car sales under lockdown

Another nationwide lockdown meant 2021 new car sales got off to a poor start, although there were some positive stories among the gloom.

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Another nationwide lockdown in January has meant that 2021 new car sales have got off to a predictably poor start, although there are certainly some positive stories among the overall gloom.

Private new car sales were down almost 39% compared to the same month a year ago – which wasn’t exactly a good month itself – as showrooms remained closed for the whole month. Fleet registrations were also down by just under 40%.

The silver lining to that cloud is that the industry still managed to deliver 60% of last January’s volume despite a national lockdown. That’s actually quite good when you consider that showroom closures last Spring resulted in new car sales pretty much grinding to a halt for about ten weeks.

This time around, car manufacturers and dealerships were much better prepared with their home delivery and click-and-collect offerings, allowing a large number of buyers to still take delivery of new cars despite the government restrictions.

Electrified cars still on a charge

The steady growth of electrified new cars (full EVs, plug-in hybrids and regular hybrids) continued in January. Combined, they accounted for more than 21% of the new car market, compared to just over 19% for diesel-powered cars (which include mild-hybrid diesels). Petrol cars (including mild hybrids) made up just under 60% of all new cars registered for the month.

Among the three types of electrified cars, full EVs continue to outsell plug-in hybrids. Regular hybrids improved their market share, although their growth was significantly less.

This growth came at the expense of both petrol and diesel cars, which both saw declines of roughly 5% in market share. This is likely to be a repeating pattern every month for the forseale future as we move towards the banning of all new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2030.

Good month, bad month

With an overall new car market down about 40%, there were very few brands that could say they had a good month. However, as always, some brands did better than others as the year got underway.

It was an above-average performance from Hyundai, Kia, MG, Mini, Porsche, Smart and Volvo, who all recorded sales that were at least 10% better than the overall market fall of 40%

Meanwhile, things were particularly gloomy for Abarth, Alfa Romeo, Alpine, Bentley, Citroën, DS Automobiles, Fiat, Honda, Jaguar, Jeep, Lexus, Mazda, Mitsubishi, SEAT, SsangYong and Suzuki, whose results were at least 10% worse than the overall market result.

Corsa starts the year on top

After leading the market for the last half of last year, the Vauxhall Corsa has started 2021 on top. It’s alost foolishly early to make predictions, but could this be the year that the Ford Fiesta is finally dethroned from its sales throne?

It was a great month for the ageing Kia Sportage, which is normally found in and out of the bottom half of the top ten, while the even more elderly Nissan Qashqai appears to be in full run-out mode ahead of the launch of an all-new model in coming weeks.

The Kia Niro also popped up into ninth place on the best-sellers list, while the rest of the top ten consisted of most of the usual suspects, albeit shuffled about a bit on what we’ve come to expect. We’ll have our usual analysis of the top ten in coming days.

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.

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