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The motoring industry showed shoots of recovery in April with dealers posting strong sales despite showrooms being shut for half of the month.  

A total of 141,583 new cars were registered in April, an 'artificial’ 30-fold increase on the same month a year ago, when dealerships were forced to shutter their businesses.

Showrooms were given the green light to open on 12 April as part of the most recent easing of lockdown rules, increasing demand and bringing registrations up to 12.1 per cent behind where they were in April 2019, with public demand driving the rebound.

Road to recovery: April registrations show signs of pent-up demand and the new car market rebounding, driven by the reopening of showrooms last month

Road to recovery: April registrations show signs of pent-up demand and the new car market rebounding, driven by the reopening of showrooms last month

Records held by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders show that sales volumes were 12.9 per cent lower than the 10-year average for the month of April.

That average does not include figures for April 2020, when registrations plunged to just 4,321 cars as the first national lockdown took hold.

Today’s data shows there are clear signs that public demand for new cars is strong.

Some 61,935 sales last month were private purchases and finance agreements, which accounted for 44 per cent of all registrations.

That compares to 67,873 private sales in April 2019, which accounted for 42.1 per cent of the market share.

When taking into account that dealers supported the market for the first week and a half with click and collect services, it suggests there is plenty of pent-up demand for the latest 21-plate cars.  

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said the figures show 'there is light at the end of the tunnel’ following 'one of the darkest years in automotive history’.

’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,’ he added.

The market is showing strong signs of recovery after 'one of the darkest years in automotive history', according to the SMMT

The market is showing strong signs of recovery after 'one of the darkest years in automotive history’, according to the SMMT

New car sales were down around 12% on the pre-pandemic April average. However, public demand for the latest models appears strong now that showrooms have reopened

New car sales were down around 12% on the pre-pandemic April average.

However, public demand for the latest models appears strong now that showrooms have reopened

The market share of private registrations is higher in 2021 than it was before the pandemic, when public sales accounted for 42.1% of all registrations (April 2019 figure)

The market share of private registrations is higher in 2021 than it was before the pandemic, when public sales accounted for 42.1% of all registrations (April 2019 figure)

Sue Robinson, chief executive of the National Franchised Dealers Association, also said that April figures were 'extremely encouraging’.

’April’s results are positive considering dealerships have been open for less than three weeks, with sales previously supported by click and collect; since reopening, daftar sbobet indonesia customer footfall and volume of enquiries at dealerships have been strong and driving schools are seeing a major increase in young people booking driving lessons and tests.

’All of this leads us to believe that there is a very upbeat outlook ahead for the motor industry in the summer and retailers are looking forward to a further release of the pent-up demand accumulated over the past months.’

Karen Johnson, head of retail and wholesale at Barclays Corporate Banking, said that the April data is the result of demand for new cars 'bubbling under the surface of the UK vehicle market for more than 12 months’.

Grants cuts spark plug-in hybrid sales to overtake electric vehicles 

The reopening of showrooms in April did record a shift change in the type of 'clean’ cars drivers ordered. 

The total plug-in vehicle registrations accounted for just over one in eight vehicles, however, plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) were more popular than battery electric vehicles (BEVs) for the first time in months.

The SMMT says this is likely due to the Government’s decision to cut the Plug-in Car Grant in March.

Ministers chose to restrict grant eligibility to models priced up to £35,000 (previously £50,000) and lowered the amount to £2,500 (down from £3,000).

The move appears to have backfired, with monthly electric vehicle uptake down compared to the first three months of 2021.

And while plug-in hybrids are seen as being cleaner than conventional petrol and diesel cars, they do produce emissions and don’t have the full eco-credentials of battery-only models.

The Government's decision to cut the Plug-in Car Grant in March has seen PHEV sales overtake BEV registrations

The Government’s decision to cut the Plug-in Car Grant in March has seen PHEV sales overtake BEV registrations

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