The UK new car market fell by almost a third in 2020, according to new figures.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said the market dropped to 1,631,064 vehicles in the year, down 29.4 per cent.
A 10.9 per cent decline in December wrapped up a turbulent 12 months, which saw demand fall by 680,076 units to the lowest level of registrations since 1992.
Private vehicle demand fell by 26.6 per cent overall, amounting to a £1.9bn loss of VAT to the Exchequer.
The year saw also saw 31.1 per cent fewer vehicles joining large company car fleets.
Demand fell across all segments apart from specialist sports, which grew by 7 per cent, although Britain’s most popular class of car remained the supermini, retaining a 31.2 per cent market share despite a 25.9 per cent decline in registrations.
Meanwhile, although falling by a combined 32.9 per cent, petrol and mild hybrid (MHEV) petrol cars made up 62.7 per cent of registrations, while diesel and MHEV diesels, down 47.6 per cent, comprised almost a fifth (19.8 per cent) of the market.
Battery and plug-in hybrid electric cars together accounted for more than one in 10 registrations – up from about one in 30 in 2019.
Demand for battery electric vehicles (BEVs) grew by 185.9 per cent to 108,205, while registrations of plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) rose 91.2 per cent to 66,877.
Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “2020 will be seen as a ‘lost year’ for Automotive, with the sector under pandemic-enforced shutdown for much of the year and uncertainty over future trading conditions taking their toll.
“However, with the rollout of vaccines and clarity over our new relationship with the EU, we must make 2021 a year of recovery.
“With manufacturers bringing record numbers of electrified vehicles to market over the coming months, we will work with government to encourage drivers to make the switch, while promoting investment in our globally-renowned manufacturing base – recharging the market, industry and economy.”