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The Vauxhall Corsa-e electric supermini

‘Artificial boom’ in April’s new car sales – but still way below 10-year average

April saw an ‘artificial boom’ in new car sales as showrooms reopened after lockdown compared to the same period last year – when the UK was in the first grips of the pandemic.

But new units new car sales are still nearly 13 percent down on the decade average, according to figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders.

New figures show an artificial 7,000 percent increase of new car registrations in April 2021 compared to the same month last year, when Britons were experiencing their first national lockdown.

Last month, 141,583 new cars were registered – compared to April 2020’s record low of 4,321 registrations.

Retail demand saw the most significant recovery, rising from just 871 registrations last April to 61,935.

Click and collect supported the market for the first week and a half until dealerships could reopen on 12 April – a marked contrast from the same month last year, where Covid restrictions effectively prevented private purchases.

However, April 2021’s consumer registrations were still -14.5 percent down on the 10-year average.

Fleet sales for April 2021 were up 2,400 percent on April 2020 at 77,241 units, while business sales were up 570 percent on the same month last year at 2,407.

The Vauxhall Corsa was Britain’s favourite car for the month (3,968 registrations) and the year to date (16,381) followed by the Mercedes A-Class (3,270 / 14906) and the Ford Fiesta (3,261 / 13,439).

The Corsa has been the UK’s best-selling car every month in 2021, and for eight of the past 12 months. The electric Corsa-e (pictured) has also been the UK’s best-selling small electric passenger car every month this year.

Overall registrations for 2021 now stand at 567,108 units, some 32.5 percent down on the average recorded over the past decade.

The full impact of showrooms reopening has yet to be realised, given the delay between a customer initially visiting a dealership, deciding on a model and then taking delivery of that new vehicle is normally a number of weeks.

The new figures also show electric vehicles ‘charging ahead’ – plug-ins (including hybrids) now account for one in eight vehicle sales.

Mike Hawes, chief executive of the SMMT, said: “After one of the darkest years in automotive history, there is light at the end of the tunnel.

“A full recovery for the sector is still some way off, but with showrooms open and consumers able to test drive the latest, cleanest models, the industry can begin to rebuild.

“Market confidence is improving, and we now expect to finish the year in a slightly better position than anticipated in February, largely thanks to the more upbeat business and consumer confidence created by the successful vaccine rollout.

“That confidence should also translate into another record year for electric vehicles, which will likely account for more than one in seven new car registrations.”

Pictured: The Vauxhall Corsa-e electric supermini