Car sales plummet (apart from the Green ones)

Vehicle registrations fell by an estimated 94 per cent in April, and 85 per cent in May, compared to the same periods last year, according to figures released today by the Department for Transport.

The quarterly Vehicle Licensing Statistics reported 599,000 vehicles were registered, a 30 per cent fall from the first quarter of 2019, resulting in a drop in the total number of licenced vehicles on the roads – only the second such decline since the end of the Second World War.

The figures revealed an 82 per cent decrease in registrations in the last week of March, coinciding with Lockdown and vehicle dealerships and showrooms closing, which removed the main method by which new vehicles are sold.

Only low-emission vehicles were selling in numbers

In terms of actual numbers,this was followed by 12,340 vehicle registrations in April and 37,100 in May.

However, the number of newly registered ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) shot up to 33,700 – an increase of 113 per cent on last year. In contrast, new diesel cars fell by 45 per cent and petrol cars sales were down by 34 per cent.

Greg Wilson, founder of the car insurance comparison website,, says: “It’s not a surprise to learn that the Lockdown has had a significant impact on vehicles sales, but the scale of that impact is truly staggering, particularly at the height of the lockdown in April and May.

“It’s also significant that the total number of vehicles on the road fell in the first quarter – the first time that number has fallen since 1991, and only the second time since the end of the Second World War.

“This is likely to be due to a combination of fewer new vehicles being registered as the lockdown was introduced, and some motorists deciding to SORN their vehicles if they weren’t likely to need them during lockdown.

“It’s also interesting to note the sharp rise in ULEV registrations – given that many electric cars are able to be delivered directly to the buyer, it’s possible this trend was partly driven by the lockdown as well.”

See the vehicle licensing statistics: