Press release

SMMT new car registrations | May 2020

Auto Trader's Commercial Director, Ian Plummer, provides his view on the latest new car registrations from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT)

“With retailer forecourts across the UK shut for the duration of May it comes as little surprise that we were low on new car registrations for the month. Now that retailers in England have reopened (from Monday 1st June) there’s huge opportunity for the industry to help kick-start the country’s wider economy. The market was paused, not stopped. And now, it’s clearly re-starting.

“Even though consumers haven’t been able to visit showrooms over the past month, it hasn’t stopped them from browsing online to find their next car. Our audience is now back up to pre-COVID levels, averaging over 1.7 million cross platform visits every day (an increase of 5% year-on-year), which suggests there’s a lot of pent up demand. Encouragingly, consumer demand for brand new cars reached record levels on Auto Trader on the day showrooms in England reopened – a 158% increase vs pre-lockdown in terms of the number of leads consumers were sending to retailers. It reassuringly demonstrates strong consumer confidence to purchase a brand new car. To complement that, we’ve also seen a 56% increase in the number of new cars advertised on Auto Trader with over 50,000 new cars now advertised.

“Retailers have worked hard to show consumers that they are adhering to the new social distancing guidelines as well as the health and safety measures to instil confidence that if they turn up to a forecourt, it’s safe to do so. They have also developed their digital offering, allowing potential buyers to conduct a virtual walk round or even a video test drive of a car, and then to put down a deposit online and arrange safe home delivery of a vehicle.  One thing we’ve learned from this pandemic is that – as a society – there’s been an acceleration to buy online, and not just everyday products but bigger purchases like cars too, and the auto industry is now fully embracing this trend.” 

“The UK’s love of finance could also prove to be a market driver. With more than nine in 10 consumers buying their cars on PCP deals, there is a constant rotation of cars every three years or so.  Car buyers who were part of the record new car sales numbers seen three years ago will now need to come back into the market to make a new purchase. So with early demand signs looking positive, and the stock available, it points to an encouraging start to the month. 

“There remain question marks though about the sustainability of this demand over the mid-term. There are growing calls for government incentives to support the industry with research showing that benefits can be widespread. Government stands to recoup £3 for every £1 spent thanks to increased VAT and vehicle excise duties, as well as reduced employment-related costs in the industry. Consumers who not only want a car but need one, now probably more than ever, will be able to afford to switch to a cleaner model. And by focusing incentives on both EVs as well as the cleanest generations of petrol and diesel models, the environment will benefit from seeing these cars replace the oldest, more polluting models. France has already introduced a very ambitious plan which tackles these issues and aims to take the leadership on EV production and research; Germany is poised to do the same. The UK has similar ambitions and will now need to act fast to keep pace.”

Our latest Retailer Performance Masterclass on distance selling is now live. Take the module now to become an expert on all things distance selling > https://t.co/Wm6Ve34Tf1 https://t.co/TVqYfZdDJy
Register now for next week’s webinar where we’ll be revealing how to keep buyers locked into your adverts for longer along with an update on the wholesale market from @dealerauction1. Register now at https://t.co/fRY30yjrUU https://t.co/H1VUtOHteP
Our latest pricing data, based on the 510,000 vehicles currently available on our marketplace, shows that used car prices continue to record strong levels of growth – up 7.7% YoY – despite the current lockdown measures in place. https://t.co/SVtIcJmKq5
In our latest blog, we’ve pulled together our top tips for making sure you’re digital forecourt is attracting as many buyers as possible. Click below to find out more 👇https://t.co/ssr5eAs64R
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Our Data & Insight Director @therickw shares our latest audience insights, including how many visitors, ad views and leads we have seen since the start of 2021. https://t.co/4CJ0pNun49
It's the final day of @AMchatter #AMLVirtual. Be sure to check out the virtual and listen in to their expert speakers 👇 https://t.co/Jr38eTuWKq
Closing off today's webinar, @stuart_trader announces the launch of our next (and very topical) #RPMAccredited module on Distance Selling. Find out more and become accredited now > https://t.co/Wm6Ve34Tf1 https://t.co/UUpT9NlIaR
Nona Bowkis from @Lawgistics_UK is now on to answer your questions. She kicks off by confirming that everything paid by the consumer, including a warranty, has to be refunded in the event of a return within the 14 day cooling off period. https://t.co/mEtXKnB1Cw
Last week we asked retailers if they were operating click & collect or home delivery with 94% indicating they have and this week we can see that 79% have seen success. https://t.co/HqLuUGEYCi

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Registered in England (Company number: 09439967)

Auto Trader Limited
Registered in England and Wales (Company number: 03909628)

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Manchester
M15 4FN
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