British passenger car sales plunged 44.4pc to 254,684 units in March, from 458,054 units during the same month in 2019, according to the latest data published by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) on April 6.
Car showroom closures and stringent “stay-at-home” measures have decimated sales figures in an industry that had already been grappling with Brexit uncertainty, falling domestic sales, and lower demand for diesel fuelled engines.
Sales of light commercial vehicles (vans) under 3.5mt experienced a sharper fall of 54.3pc to 30,247 units, from 66,123 units in the same month the prior year, likely resulting from the deterioration in construction and manufacturing activity in March and the accompanying staff furloughs.
At the same time, automotive sales in Italy, France, and Spain dropped 72.2pc, 85.4pc and 69.3pc, respectively, in March versus the same time last year in response to restrictions on movement and stringent social distancing measures.
Automotive sales data is expected to be similarly poor, if not worse, in April too because of the restrictions and lockdowns to contain the spread of COVID-19 in UK and Europe, that are unlikely to ease in the immediate future.