New car sales: July sales up by 11%

Nick Lette van Oostvoorne
August 05, 2020

New car sales rose by more than 11% in July 2020 compared with 2019 as dealerships across the UK reopen following the coronavirus shut-down.

  • New car registrations down 41.9%
  • 175k new cars registrations reported in July 2020
  • Dealership re-openings continue
  • Growing demand for hybrids and EVs
  • Most popular cars of 2020 so far revealed
  • Public transport concerns fuelling new car sales

More than 174,887 cars were registered in July 2020 according to figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). This represents an increase of 11.3% compared with July 2019.

This is a significant improvement compared with June, which saw a 34.9% drop in registrations year-on-year.

SMMT estimates that July’s increase is partly caused by pent-up buying demand resulting from numerous dealership closures during the coronavirus outbreak. However, overall registrations in 2020 are still down by 598,054 (41.9%) compared with the same period in 2019.

Watch our video review of July’s biggest-selling electric car, the Tesla Model 3.

It’s not all bad news, though – registrations of plug-in vehicles have risen by more than 320% since the same time in 2019 and pure electric vehicles have seen a similarly impressive 259% year-on-year increase in registrations.

New car sales: biggest sellers in July

The Vauxhall Corsa was the biggest seller in July 2020, just pipping the Ford Fiesta by a few dozen sales – well, it had the most registrations. A dealership can register a car themselves to sell on or keep as a demonstrator etc. Also SMMT data included fleet sales as well as private buyers.

A new Vauxhall Corsa was launched earlier this year, and its smart new looks and generous equipment levels are resonating with customers. And the fact that currently on carwow, you can get on average a £1800 discount off a new one.


New car sales: biggest sellers year to date

The Ford Fiesta and Ford Focus are the biggest-selling cars so far in 2020, with the Corsa a few cars behind in third place. The Mercedes A-Class shows that a premium brand can also be mainstream, being the sixth biggest seller in the UK in the first seven months of 2020.

Year-to-date registrations
Ford Fiesta 26,519 Latest deals
Ford Focus 23,126 Latest deals
Vauxhall Corsa 23,101 Latest deals
Volkswagen Golf 21,825 Latest deals
Nissan Qashqai 17,777 Latest deals
Mercedes A-Class 17,648 Latest deals
Mini 15,146 Latest deals
Volkswagen Polo 13,046 Latest deals
Volkswagen Tiguan 12,822 Latest deals
Toyota Yaris 12,676 Latest deals

SMMT chief Mike Hawes said: “July’s figures are positive, with a boost from demand pent up from earlier in the year and some attractive offers meaning there are some very good deals to be had. We must be cautious, however, as showrooms have only just fully reopened nationwide and there is still much uncertainty about the future.

“By the end of September we should have a clearer picture of whether or not this is a long-term trend. Although this month’s figures provide hope, the market remains fragile in the face of possible future spikes and localised lockdowns as well as, sadly, probable job losses across the economy. The next few weeks will be crucial in showing whether or not we are on the road to recovery.”

carwow car sales

The increase in hybrid and electric vehicles sold through carwow in July represents a year-on-year increase of 52.6%. That’s significant, but someway behind the SMMT’s national registration figures.

The Volvo XC40 was the most popular car sold through carwow in July 2020, while the Mercedes A-Class is carwow’s best-selling car of 2020 to date.

James Hind, CEO of carwow, said: “It is still early days in terms of predicting if and how a market recovery will unfold, but our figures alongside industry reports offer some respite for dealers adapting to the new world. This is particularly encouraging as the countdown to the September plate-change begins in earnest.

“Greater numbers of consumers are now choosing to buy online, confident in navigating the digital journey to find their next purchase and secure the deal. We surveyed nearly 500 people from the UK who bought a car via carwow in June and July, and 54% of them said they would continue to do the bulk of their car buying online in the future. What’s more, over 88% of these car buyers said that choosing a carwow dealer gave them extra peace of mind.

“This is great news for dealers and buyers alike. Dealers benefit from genuine leads from people intent on buying, not simply window shopping. Consumers benefit from choosing a dealer who offers a product and price that meet their criteria, whilst delivering a service that has their very best interests at heart, crucial at this precarious time.”